Mitimilele Ltd

Msambweni Project

How It All Began

We have been developing the model farm for sustainable living in Msambweni since March 2011. I have also built my private house here since it is a beautiful stretch of land to live on and to be always on site to keep an eye on things.

construction site Construction from the main house small
the foundation the farm house small The Main House Cloverleaf shaped small smal

 

Planting Casuarina Trees

The first step in developing the model farm was to plant Casuarina trees. This is an important building block of the project since they will yield a significant return once the trees are ready to be cut. After four years some of them are already six inches in diameter which allows them to be used in our own projects as fence poles and building material for makuti roofs, the local word for palm thatched roofs. The selling of the Casuarinas still has to wait. We planted the trees two meters apart to promote growth. With the farm being 500 m away from the Indian Ocean, the ground is very rocky and partially mixed with sand. Therefore each of the Casuarinas' planting holes needed to be dug with the help of iron bars to break up the rocks.

Once the trees have been planted we needed to get rid of the excessively growing grass which hampered the growth of the Casuarinas. Hence we introduced cows and goats serving as natural mowing machines. And their dung is a welcome manure; after some months it can be mixed with soil which can be used in the vegetable garden and new planting holes to provide an extra dose of nutrients. Another way to process the dung is to mix it with water, watered-down urine or a solution of effective microorganisms. The resulting manure can be used after a couple of days' rest to irrigate the plants once a week but not more often.

Farm before and after Cultivation

The farm before cultivation

Casuarina forest verkl. small small

In addition to the manure that is being produced by the cows and goats, the Casuarinas themselves manure the surrounding soil through a natural process in which a bacterium called Francia is living in symbiosis with the tree's root system. In this mutually supporting relationship the tree provides the bacterium with sustenance while the bacterium binds nitrogen from the air and supplies it to the tree as a nutrient.

As a sign of a well-balanced soil and environment we have already seen a considerable increase in the so called Millipedes arthropod population. This is an indigenous species feeding on decomposing vegetation and organic matter mixed with soil. They play an important role for the fertility of the soil as they break down and decompose leaf litter and transform it into absorbable nutrients.

Ever since we started this project we also did our best to promote reforestation. In our humble attempts, we collect indigenous trees from friends, foresters and forests and plant them as soon as the rainy season starts in March. We also label the different species so that we can offer guided tours to interested parties.

Water Purification

Another aspect of our model farm is the use of effective microorganisms which we amongst others employ to break down the solid matters in our septic tank so that it never has to be emptied. Another great benefit of these extraordinary microbes is that the remaining solution in the tank is far less bad smelling and poisonous and as an actual fact flows back to nature via a soak pit as manure. We also use the effective microorganisms as a supplement to our dogs' food to boost their immune system. We sometimes even mop the floor with it to get a better, shinier result and allowing us to water the plants with the remaining dirty water while providing them with some microbiological support.

Well Construction

Hand Digged Well small smal

Drainage Hole for Grey Water

Drainage Hole for Grey Water small smal

Furthermore we try to decrease our environmental footprint by distinguishing between grey and black water in our house's waste water. The latter goes to the septic tank for digestion while the grey water is directly reintroduced to nature through a coral rock drainage system which not only helps to steer the water flow but also serves as a coarse filter. Not to cause any harm to our environment we refrain as much as we can from using chemicals such as bleach, washing powder and soap.

 

Herb Gardening

Since we started working on our model farm we have been able to create a herbal garden which is now offering an abundance of herbal remedies and medicinal plants including Moringa, Neem, Eucalyptus, Tamarind, Jackfruit, Pawpaw, Guava, Mango, Lemon, Orange, Limau, Avocado, Baobab, Curry leaf, Frangipani trees as well as Coconut palms. Various shrubs, plants and herbs like Aloe vera, Euphorbia hirta, Vinca rosea, Chilli, Cassia alata, Lemon grass, Marigold, Bixa orellana, Cajanus cajan, Kalanchoe, Hibiscus, Vanilla, Pumpkin, Turmeric, Ginger, Onion, Pineapple, Passion fruits, Banana, Watermelon, Purple Onion, Sweet Potato, Tomatoes, Coriander, Parsley, Rosemary, Peppermint and Indian Basil provide us and our surroundings with food, pleasant smell and beauty.

Artemisia Seedling

Protected Artemisia Seedling small

Coriander

Coriander small

Passion Fruit

Passionfruits small smal

Vegetable Beds

Vegetable Beds kl. small

They are all grown organically, hence they very are strong and pest resistant without having to rely on any chemicals to aid their growth or protect them against external influences. And consequently if we eat these strong plants, we boost our immune system without harming it with pesticides or other chemicals. Taking all these measures to maintain good health, there have only been very few occasions on which it was necessary to consult a doctor.

 

What's Coming Next

Earthbag House

Another project to be carried out in June 2015 is the build of a round earthbag house, following an ecological construction method developed in the 80s by the Iranian-borne American architect Nader Khalili. It is a low-cost, low-impact and low-tech construction method with which the house is quickly erected and that allows it to resist rain, floods, storms, earthquakes and even bullets.

The filling material of the polypropylene bags will be on-site soil which makes this construction method literally 'dirt cheap'. Our County Governor Salim Mvurya and some officers from Msambweni are already greatly interested in the result. During the build people will be on-the-job trained to enable them employing the earthbag construction technique in future undertakings on their own.

The project is led and sponsored by Joachim Freudenberg, a process engineer who currently pursues his PhD in Birmingham, England. The house will be fitted with a composting toilet and a cistern for rain water collection. The overall objective of the project is to promote this environment friendly building method and create a space for the planned workshops, occasional guests and, in everyday life, for our yoga exercises.

The latter was encouraged and introduced by a dear friend from India, Suresh Babu Khannan. With his help we set up our health incentive programme in which the whole team practices yoga, breathing exercises and other routines on a daily basis. As a result we all sleep better, have less muscle pain and are generally more relaxed. This endeavour has been so well received and successful that we hope to attract local people and their families from the surrounding area to join our exercises in the further future. Everybody is welcome.

 

Workshops & Lectures

Mid 2015, we plan to start with regular lectures and workshops in schools, hospitals and other interested organisations to spread the knowledge about the above mentioned topics, herbal medicine and further aspects of our model farm that are met with interest. The workshops about herbal medicine will not only impart the knowledge about the wonderful local medicinal herbs and their uses but also teach participants how to prepare herbal infusions, cook medicinal ointments, prepare black stones which are locally used as a first aid against snake bites, and much more.

First Workshop in Msambweni Farm small Herbalist Father George Okuto small

The practical part will take place on our farm here in Msambweni. If possible we would like to encourage and support interested people to set up their own herbal gardens by giving away seeds and seedlings on a pro bono basis. And if not used by themselves the selling of the medicinal herbs could at least generate a small income with no to little investment for those who choose to set up their own garden.

We are currently in contact with Juma, a Community Health Worker from Msambweni, with whom we are already working together and plan to do more so in the future. The next workshop will take place in his house and he will also invite interested friends and families.

A fresh year lies at our doorstep, full of opportunity and promise, and we hope and pray that we will be led on our chosen path towards the ambitious goals we have set for our projects and ourselves.

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