By: Seth Davis While Uganda is known for the tremendous fertility of its land, there are still many obstacles that hinder the people from growing a nutritious variety of fresh produce. Lack of education, small plots of land, limited access to a variety of seeds – these are only a few of the many hurdles that most Ugandans contend with when attempting to grow their own food. Because the country is situated right on the equator, there is great potential for year-round production and thriving backyard gardens, or "mini farms."
In light of this, Derek Bargatze has recently begun working with our East Africa cooperative, Peter Kimbugwe, on the implementation of more efficient and innovative gardening techniques in Bombo Town, Uganda. As seen in the pictures below, they have constructed what is called a "keyhole garden" (a circular, raised garden bed with a compost "feeding basket" in the center), as well as a "squarefoot garden" (a slightly raised square grid designed to maximize the space for growing vegetables). Both approaches are "bio-intensive" methods of gardening. “Bio-intensive” refers to agricultural methods that optimize space so as to glean the highest possible yield from even a very small plot of land. Derek is also beginning to educate our Ugandan friends on the importance of composting as a means of improving the quality of the soil.
In addition to the development of these backyard gardens, we are also looking into a long term goal of partnering with a local elementary school in hopes of planting a school garden. Currently, the children are only offered a corn-based porridge for lunch. Because there is very little nutritional value in this porridge, the performance of the students is greatly hindered. A garden would provide the type of food so desperately necessary for growing children. Though we are starting small, we are full of hope that this new gardening initiative in Bombo will be a seed for change, ushering in the Kingdom of God in a tangible way.