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Farms flourish in the city

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Teddy Kinyanjui poses with some of the produce from his farm on Ngecha Road, Spring Valley, Nairobi. Photo/DIANA NGILA

Teddy Kinyanjui poses with some of the produce from his farm on Ngecha Road, Spring Valley, Nairobi. Photo/DIANA NGILA  

By EVELYN SITUMA

Posted  Thursday, January 10   2013 at  14:46

In Summary

  • From floating farms, hanging roof gardens to growing produce in sacks and greenhouses urban farms are thriving and turning a profit even when making money is not their driving force.
  • Though there are no official figures about their numbers, what they produce and how much they generate, there are certainly a good number of them in diverse neighbourhoods, from Karen to Kitisuru.

Behind the high walls and ornate gates in posh estates lies much more than mansions nestling against lush lawns and leafy drives. A substantial acreage lies under farms.

Besides an eye for beauty and a taste for the fine things in life, those who live on the ornate properties have learnt to professionally to utilise the limited spaces to run farms which produce enough to supply to supermarkets or simply to share with family and friends.

These are farmers who hold the urban food security in their hands. From floating farms, hanging roof gardens to growing produce in sacks and greenhouses these urban farms are thriving and turning a profit even when making money is not their driving force.

For some they were born into the business while others settled into it as a money making venture or side job or simply a hobby they engage in to keep themselves busy or use their knowledge and skills productively in their free time.

Professionals

One such farmer is Peter Oywaya, an engineer by profession, who keeps turkeys in his Rongai farm. He says he started keeping the birds by default.

One Saturday morning he woke up to receive three live turkeys, sent over to his home in Satellite, by his wife’s friends.

His wife had seen them at her friend’s home and had fallen in love with them, so she asked for some, which were sent to her as a gift that Saturday morning, four months after she had asked for them.

When they arrived, however, neither Mr Oywaya nor his wife knew what to do with the birds.

He opted to take the turkeys to his farm in Rongai, where he left them. It was only after they laid their first eggs that he realised that they would be beneficial after all. With several trials and failures, he finally learnt how to capitalise on Turkey farming.

Today, he has 300 birds from the initial three he started with. His is a pure heritage breed since he has never bought additional birds. Since going commercial about two years ago he has sold over 500 birds.

He also sells eggs and makes jewellery from the by-products. A kilo of Turkey meat goes for about Sh600, and a bird can weigh about 13 kilogrammes. One egg costs Sh60.

Mr Oywaya now hopes to transform the eating habits of Kenyans and get them to also consider turkey as a day-to-day part of their menu and not something to be considered only during the festive season.

Organic market

A few kilometres away from his farm, on the way to Karen, Rose Mungai grows various organic crops on her piece of land. And after harvesting them, she can be found at the Talisman organic market held every Saturday in the neighbourhood of Karen.

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