News Story

Farming by the Centimeter

John Muhuro Ngacha has a plan – he is trying to prove to members of his community in Makadara, Nairobi, that one can successfully farm with limited amounts of land such as that found in cities as well as in dry areas. In 2009, John met with some officials from the Ministry of Agriculture who subsequently initiated a training program on urban and peri-urban farming for John and a group that he had formed in the congregation of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Buru Buru. One of the concepts the training provided was how to build and manage a multi-storied garden. In urban areas where space is limited and in areas where water is scarce, this kind of garden can be feasible and very convenient.

This unique concept of gardening involves planting vegetation in a plastic sack (with a diameter of approximately 1 meter and a height of 1.5 meters) filled with soil, gravel and fertilizer. These multi-storied gardens minimize use of space and can be placed in the backyards of residential areas and even on rooftops of buildings. Within a diameter of just 1 meter and a height of 1.5 meters, one can plant the same amount of vegetation that would require a space of 72 square meters in a regular flat garden. This new garden design requires only about 20 liters of water a week. The same number of plants growing on a flat surface would require considerably more water.

Common vegetables such as spinach, kale, onions, coriander and tomatoes, among others, can be planted in the garden. One of these gardens can be seen in the shamba on the Buru Buru chapel grounds of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. John is a counselor in the bishopric of that congregation and is happy to engage visitors in describing the feasibility and efficiency of these gardens.

John has been visiting members of his community telling the residents about the advantages of this space saving garden. As a result of his enthusiasm for this project, he was recognized by the government on the 2010 World Food Day for contributing to food security in the city and in 2012 he was invited to vie for election in the Makadara Division as farmers’ representative. He is now a member of the agricultural committees in both the division and the province.

John has embarked on a plan to encourage the replication of these gardens in Nairobi in order to demonstrate their feasibility and simplicity. If church and other community members would follow the recommendations associated with John’s plan, one would observe a significant boost in food self-reliance for the family, a concept taught to members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Style Guide Note:When reporting about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, please use the complete name of the Church in the first reference. For more information on the use of the name of the Church, go to our online Style Guide.