Grassroots Uganda is not all crafts. We have many other fantastically fun things that we do. My new personal much-loved project is Peace Demonstration Farm.
Peace Farm was started in September 2012 by Grassroots Uganda in collaboration with Fred Kyakonye and his late wife Peace. The purpose of Peace Farm is to lead by example and show people that through hard work, dedication, and an open mind, they can use farming as a viable business, instead of merely subsistence farming.
The available market in Uganda is changing. At any given time there are about 26,000 American in the country alone, not including the plethora of Europeans, Brits, Aussies, Kiwis, and Asians who are pouring in each day. By planting a fresh variety of cash crops to cater to the new and ever changing multi-cultural market, our farmers can tap into a HUGE available revenue stream.
The problem is that Ugandans (like my Grandpa) are VERY set in their ways. If their family has been growing cassava and maize on the same plot of land for the last 200 years, then dang nab it they are going to do the same! *Sigh* The reason we are leading by example, is to help overcome this cultural barrier. Most of what we are growing is available, but considered village food for children, so adults are reluctant to grow it commercially. When people see us growing these crops, see the farm grow, and the farms beneficiaries prosper, it can help mobilize them to ‘drink the proverbial koolaid’ and start growing with us!
Our crops include mulberries, raspberries, strawberries, star fruit, sour sop fruit, sweet corn, colored sweet bell peppers, (really cool) purple beans, zucchini, lettuce, and varieties of western squash.
As growing our crops on a commercial level takes substantially more effort than growing local varieties of foods; we are also promoting and implementing new and innovative (for Uganda at least) farming techniques. These include raised bed gardening, raised compost heaps, fertilizing, mulching, crop rotation, aerating the soil, garden planning, and irrigating.
We have started selling our yields at Farmers Markets around Kampala, and our newest initiative it to dig a well, and install a solar pump with a drip irrigation system so we can easily water our crops year round. Our water is currently being hauled in jerry cans on a bicycle from 3 kilometers away! Fortunately, we have received a grant from Water for Humanity for $5,000, so we just have $5, 584 left to go until the well is completed!