Permaculture Ethics & Practice in Sub-Saharan Africa

How is agroforestry playing a role in improving soil conservation in southwestern Uganda?

When people think about Sub-Saharan Africa, they tend to conjure up images of dry, dusty landscapes – flat, hot and bare – with field upon field of thirsty maize crops. In several regions of Sub-Saharan Africa, including the Karamoja District in northern Uganda, those stock images aren’t so far from …

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Ugandan Grasshopper Season

Nsenene is a cultural delicacy in East Africa.

November is a month to harvest, de-wing, fry, sell, devour and celebrate a Ugandan cultural delicacy. Grasshoppers, or nsenene as it’s locally known, flood the humid airs of the year’s second rainy season, and Ugandan trappers take to the fields and streets in the masses. The days of November mark the rising …

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For the Love of the Beehive

Respect.

Bees are pretty inspiring little creatures. Let’s all take a moment to agree on that. In the last couple of years I have become instinctively curious about, and inspired by the humble little bumblebee. Now I could sit here with my mug of honey-enriched tea and discuss the impressive capabilities …

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Got ‘Underdeveloped’ Milk? – Part III

Nutrition assessment at KIHEFO. (Photo - Nikki Janzen)

There’s a queue of thirty-some people who are hoping to bring home milk for dinner at the corner store dairy, and only four employees behind the counter who are busy grabbing weathered notes and heavy coins from hands whilst filling plastic bags with what let’s call ‘white gold” in Uganda. …

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Got ‘Underdeveloped’ Milk? – Part II

Milk - 32 flavours and then some.

I’m growing fat and nourished on unprocessed milk these days whilst living in Uganda.  I don’t have much of a choice, at least, not like I do in Canada when I go to the grocery store, and see shelves stacked with yellow, purple, blue and red plastic-capped jugs of milk, representing homogenized, 1%, …

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Got ‘Underdeveloped’ Milk? – Part I

My cornerstone dairy in Kabale, Uganda.

One of my culturally-absorbed addictions in Uganda would be considered a highly contraband substance in Canada. It’s white, creamy, and delicious – and I “take it” straight from the cow’s teat. Raw, unpasteurized milk. Three boiled cupfuls a day. What’s illegal in Canada – to sell or buy raw milk – …

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I Dreamed of [Painting Permaculture] in Cuba

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What do you see? An old white-painted shack with the rust seething through? A storage unit? A fence? If you mentioned any of the above, you’re clearly, rationally, correct. But if you, instead, engage the irrational you may open your mind to invite in other solutions to the question of reality – and see …

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On Wildness, Saskatoon Berries and Prairie Identity

Photo - Kay Niedermeyer

This summer, in an effort to “permaculture-out” my mom’s yard and build a fruit forest at the back of her property, we planted saskatoon bushes. This is really neat for many reasons – not only does it pays homage to the prairies surrounding her home, but it also provides her with one …

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My Three Sisters – Outliers Against Conventional Agriculture

Mural in Managua, Nicaragua.

My good luck last week came with the rain. It had been bone dry in Kabale for over three weeks. The sun had baked the clay soil hard as a hockey puck. My garden was thirsty. And I was thirsty (and exhausted) from hauling water up the steep concrete steps that led …

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Monsanto and The Seed – Sowing an Uncertain Future in Uganda

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I didn’t march against Monsanto last weekend. It would’ve been me marching against the dust of the dry season here in southwestern Uganda. Small village farmers would’ve looked up from working in their gardens, weeding sorghum, hand-watering vegetables, and handing their child a sweet potato. They would’ve wondered. Who’s Monsanto? I …

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I Dreamed of [Death By Mangoes] in Cuba

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Two summers ago, on the map maker’s spec of a Caribbean island called Cuba, I dreamt of bicycles, turkeys, death by mangoes and murals (and not necessarily in that order) – amongst other magical symbols and sensations. I close my eyes and move through memory… …coasting backwards…pedaling my bicycle along the skinny …

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Negotiating Nature’s Edge – Swamp & Safari Land vs. Small-Scale Farming

Guide at community-run Bigodi Swamp.

I was standing at the end of a wetland sanctuary, and the beginning of a farmer’s field of sweet potato and maize. I was at the edge of ecosystem. In the “interface between two mediums”…stepping through the space that permaculturalists describe as “interesting and beautiful” and even “more productive” (Mollison, …

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My Edible Research – All the Rabbit Rage These Days

Alphonse holding up a 5 lb. rabbit.

Around midday I was walking along the dusty red side-road in Kabale town-centre, Uganda, back to my office, my eyes turned down and shaded from the hot sun, when I heard my name being called. I looked over my shoulder to see my friend, Tony, skidding to a halt on …

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More Postcards from Uganda – Mushrooms, Omusiri & Movers and Shakers

Mushrooms in Kabale, Uganda.

Mushrooms Postcard Dear _________. There are many reasons why mushrooms makes sense in Kabale. One, protein deficiency (leading to malnutrition) is sky-high here, especially amongst children under five. Eggs, chicken, beef, goat – are culinary pipedreams for the poor. Mushrooms are packed with protein and serve as a less costly …

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Postcards from Uganda – African Kitchen, Hunger & Rabbits

Women's digging group in Kabale, Uganda.

Today is a public holiday in Uganda. It’s International Women’s Day and the government actually gives people the day off work – another reason (aside from the weather) that I’m glad to be in Uganda, and not Canada. Even though I know the hardest working women on the face of …

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One Fish, Two Fish – Pond Potential for Food Security in Uganda

Aquaculture project

As a young boy, Lazarus Ruzindana’s remembered his father hand-digging a small pond near their home in the sloping valley village of Nyakiju, Muyumbu – located in the Kabale District of Uganda. He had packed the pond with stones and clay and during the rainy season, it became a humble …

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