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Friends of the Maasai has established a strong relationship with the residents of the villages of Tikoishi and Orpirikata, located approximately one hour west of Kajiado. Responding to the request of two highly motivated young Maasai women, Faith Supeet and Purity Ntanin Meikan, the organization initiated the construction of two permaculture community gardens in September/October 2022. These gardens serve as vegetable plots for the community members, allowing them to grow vegetables for personal consumption and sale.

Addressing Food Needs During Droughts

During prolonged droughts, when the livestock (when still alive) is often far away in search of water and food, the need for alternative food sources becomes critical alongside traditional meat and milk from the cattle.

Learning Permaculture Techniques

The establishment and maintenance of permaculture gardens involve techniques unfamiliar to many Maasai. To address this, Janice Mutui and Siya Sankale, two experienced Maasai women from Amboseli with extensive knowledge of setting up permaculture gardens in various villages, were sought for assistance. In mid-September 2022, a group of about 15 Maasai from Orpirikata (mostly women, with a few men) joined by six Maasai from Tikoishi, participated in a three-day training conducted by Janice and Siya. The group later expanded to approximately 30 participants.

Implementation and Expansion

With the acquisition of tools, seeds and other necessary supplies, as well as providing food for the training participants, the ground was prepared and the fundamental principles of permaculture were taught. The first seedbeds were established and a month later the same process was repeated in Tikoishi with a group of around 20 people.

Cultivating Drought-Resistant Vegetables

Various vegetables, including kale, spinach (two types), carrots, coriander, beans and managua are grown in the gardens. These vegetables thrive in the Kenyan heat but require adequate water supply. After the initial setup of the gardens, the existing water facilities in both villages were improved and irrigation pipes were laid to ensure water accessibility. While there were some initial challenges such as pests, diseases and water system issues, the community tackled them with the help of Friends of the Maasai and their own ingenuity.

Expanding Knowledge on Permaculture

In December 2022, a delegation of four individuals (two from each village) traveled to Laikipia, approximately 260 km north of Nairobi, to visit Joseph Lentunyoi's permaculture training center. Joseph, with extensive experience in permaculture, further introduced them to the principles of cultivating vegetables in permaculture gardens. Armed with this new knowledge, the communities of Tikoishi and Orpirikata gained a better understanding of how to establish and maintain their gardens.

Current Impact

As of mid-2023, both villages are benefiting from a regular harvest of various vegetables and beans, benefiting approximately 250 residents in each village. The need to purchase vegetables from expensive markets outside the villages has diminished. The residents are enthusiastic about the project's success and now wish to expand the garden in Orpirikata. In Tikoishi, a large vegetable garden has already been established. Additionally, the community plans to create small kitchen gardens next to their houses for personal vegetable consumption. The surplus vegetables from the community gardens are also sold to outsiders, providing much-needed income for the Maasai women.

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