This November I visited Joseph Lentenyoi’s permaculture farm, the Laikipia Permaculture Centre, Kenya. The 2-hour visit was short but life changing. The moment I stepped out of the car I felt the energy of the land, the people and the crops. It’s green, vivid and refreshing.
The region around the farm looks dry, brown and tough. The soil looks hard and arid. But when you look at the farm it looks a little like Eden. Fruit trees everywhere, corn and cabbage growing next to each other, sage and flowers rising upwards.
I knew nothing about permaculture. I always thought it was just about being off-grid, an independ way of living. Joseph showed us around assisted by his hard farmer and explained everything about the farm, the community, the food forest. He showed how they use methane from cow manure for cooking. In Kenya people usually cook on charcoal. He also talked about how they keep things cool in the water-evaporating-charcoal fridge. As a matter of fact it was a bit about being totally off-grid. But there’s more to it.
How can you fertilize bare and arid ground?
Joseph started the Laikipia Permaculture Centre in 2012. It changed the four acres landscape from brown to green simply by planting drought tolerant trees like moringa and keeping the top layer soil protected from the sun with straw. By researching the conditions of the soil they decided what plants would improve its fertility. Only a few years later you can see the enormous difference that makes.
Work and learn at Laikipia Permaculture Centre
The farm is a permaculture training centre for education on food growing, indigenous tree propagation, water harvesting and conservation strategies. You can sign up to work and learn simultaneously. At the farm are small mud lodges, a nursery, a food forest, and a class room.
What is a food forest?
A food forest is a low-maintenance sustainable plant-based way of food production based on woodland ecosystems, incorporating fruit and nut trees, shrubs, herbs, vines and perennial vegetables. Making use of companion planting, these can be intermixed to grow in a succession of layers, to reproduce a ‘forest’. One word: It’s a lush haven where there’s just food abundance everywhere you look.
About Joseph Lentenyoi
Joseph is a warm and inspiring person who takes you on his journey. I want to thank him for his inspiration tour around the Laikipia Permaculture Centre. Here’s an old vid of him explaining permaculture.