Shambas of Maisha means Gardens of Life. Agriculture has been the way of life on the Kano flood plain where Maisha is located for hundreds of years. The people are very willing to work; in fact they do backbreaking work, but are unable to produce enough to feed their own families much less provide a source of income.
Bruce Edwards, an expert in sustainable agriculture and aquaponics, launched Shambas of Maisha or “Gardens of Life” during his initial visit to Maisha in December 2010. The project’s primary goal is to build sustainability into the Maisha Feeding Project by teaching the locals the techniques necessary to overcome region specific challenges and increase crop yields. Nutrient factor of crops is factored in as well to ensure the children are receiving a well rounded diet.
Bruce’s vision for the garden is to provide basic resources and training which lead to better nutrition, development, enterprise and ultimately life. In 2011, he made a significant investment in tools and began hands-on training on composting, raised beds and natural pest repellents. To give you an idea of the challenge, it took 10 oxen to till the area used for the raised beds. This is normally done by hand by the women and children. The raised beds are important to retain soil nutrients, grow better crops and prevent the erosion of the soil once the rainy seasons come.
Bruce built a Watoto Shamba or Children’s Garden over the summer of 2013 to give the Maisha Academy children their own hands-on plot. This raised bed keyhole garden is used as an interactive learning tool while teaching the children a vital life skill.
Many Team Maisha mission participants lend their expertise and labor in the gardens during their visits.
Ultimately, Bruce hopes the training will not only make the Maisha Feeding Project sustainable, but that each person who receives training will use and pass on their acquired knowledge and duplicate our success in their own lives.