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Where lovers of fresh, organic food meet

Rose Wanja (right) serves a customer at the organic farm produce market in Ruiru, Kiambu County. PHOTO | waikwa maina
Rose Wanja (right) serves a customer at the organic farm produce market in Ruiru, Kiambu County. PHOTO | waikwa maina  

An organic food lovers’ market is promising to lift the heavy loans’ load of farmers in Ruiru, Kiambu County.

This is where growers and organically grown farm produce fanatics flock every last Saturday of the month.

For ease of logistics, customers such as Magaret Wambui have gone a step further, getting the contacts of growers for special deliveries once in a week.

“I do not have a cooler in my house and I like them fresh. I am lucky Faith Waruguru never fails me, she sends me a supply of vegetables and passion fruits every weekend guaranteeing my family organically grown foodstuffs,” says the mother of two from Kahawa West.

The venture is under the Food Security for Livelihood Improvement (Foseli), a programme aimed at ridding the farmer from the vicious loan cycle burdening them for decades.  

At the market located at the Institute for Sustainable Development and Crime Prevention Centre (TISDEC), Ms Rose Wanja can’t hide her joy as she interacts with her customers, taking breaks to tell her tale.

She is a single mother of three living in her parents’ compound, and has had her share of what comes with such a lifestyle.

“I was in unending quarrels with my parents. They felt I was a burden to them any time I requested for some money, yet I was actively involved in tea picking and other activities in the farm,” she says.

“Foseli has drastically reduced cases of domestic violence even in married couples,” says Ms Wanja.

Her sentiments are shared by Ms Njeri Kahenia who says, “Land scarcity in tea-growing areas is a major challenge, the land belongs to men and women have little say on what to grow. Tea bushes occupy the entire farm; farmers have to buy all types of foodstuffs including vegetables which consume every coin earned from tea farming.”

The mother of two says finance-fuelled conflicts between her and husband ceased the moment she embraced Foseli . Ms Wanja was introduced to Foseli by a friend sometimes mid last year but dismissed the idea as she had no land of her own, nor required skills to venture into organic farming.

Its mandatory for anyone to practice organic farming and meet set standards to be allowed to sell their produce at the organic produce market. She, however, changed her mind on visiting Njeri’s farm where she witnessed the blossoming small parches of land.

“All land in tea growing zones is normally occupied by tea bushes grown on loans. But my friend, Joyce Wanjiru, had embraced some modern farming techniques that require minimal space. She had various types of vegetables decoratively occupying every space in the compound,” sid Wanja.

Enticed by the compound’s beauty and promising returns, Ms Wanja joined a group of farmers to acquire organic farming skills offered by Participatory Ecological Land Use Management.

She does not regret the decision. After the training, Ms Wanja specialised in indigenous vegetables.

These include amaranth, African nightshade, and black-eyed peas (kunde), grown around the dwelling house, animal sheds and along the paths leading to the farm and compound. The entire area under these vegetables is about an eighth-of-an-acre.

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