Is Canadian Policy Helping Women?

A group of women farmers gather in Ibumba, Kabale, southwestern Uganda (Photo Credit - Trina Moyles)

The global cry for gender equality has never been louder. Rural Indian women are fighting for farmland, Ugandan and Kenyan women are fighting draconian “anti-miniskirt” laws that criminalize their thighs, and Canadian First Nations and aboriginal womenare fighting for a national inquiry into the tragic deaths and disappearances of more …

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Congolese Refugees in Nakivale Refugee Camp: “We Can Never Go Back”

More than 400,000 farmers have been displaced from the conflict in eastern DRC (Photo - TMoyles)

For over four years, *Hanna, a 33-year old eastern Congolese woman, and her family have been living in Nakivale Refugee Settlement, a UNHCR operated camp located in southern Uganda. She and her husband live in a semi-permanent house, grow maize and beans on small, scattered plots surrounding Nakivale, and are …

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A Eulogy for Family Farmers on World Food Day

WFD 2014: Year of the Family Farmer

Tomorrow, October 16, 2014, is World Food Day. On the 69th World Food Day, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has chosen to celebrate The International Year of the Family Farming (IYFF). It’s a noble gesture on the FAO’s part – considering the historical and current efforts made by family …

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Culture Shock & Stovetop Pumpkin Pie

My Ugandan attempt at Canadian Thanksgiving! (TMoyles)

Okay, I’ll admit it: I’m homesick. I’ve got a serious case of longing for Canada these days. I’m coming on two years (albeit for a brief hiatus in early 2013) in Uganda and good ole ‘culture shock’ has finally snuck up on me. These days, I am longing for the …

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Women Who Dig – Research with Refugee Farmers

Nakivale Camp in southwestern Uganda, (Photo by Matt Darvas)

Over the past year, I’ve had the opportunity to interview women from Nicaragua, Guatemala, Canada and Uganda about their lives as farmers. The writing process has been a journey in itself; listening to the recordings of many women’s voices, over and over again, and hearing what I didn’t hear the …

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16 Ways to Say “Banana”

Atayo carring "matooke" -food bananas, from the garden.

When I first came to Kabale, a small town-centre tucked away in the south-western corner of Uganda, I was determined to learn Rukiga, a dialect belonging to the Bakiga ethnic group. I remember flipping through a copy of a friend’s English-Rukiga dictionary and scouring the pages for agricultural related words …

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On Becoming a Bird Watcher

Be like the (yellow vented) bulbul - stop, observe and listen...

When I was a child, it wasn’t at all an uncommon experience to come home from school and find a wounded owl in the basement. The other kids in our neighbourhood in Lower West Peace were pretty sure my parents were running a zoo out of our small home. In …

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Ghost Water Taps and the Failure of Development in Southwestern Uganda

A "not so fun" water play-pump in Rusoka -- in disuse (Spencer Huchulak)

By Spencer Huchulak “One tap…two taps…three taps.” This is what I was hoping to count to myself on Monday when I walked through town. Unfortunately, my optimism would be squashed. The day before, mzee, my host grandfather, described the water project he hoped to start in Kabasheshe. Currently, the closest water source …

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The Chicken Feather

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It all began with the slashed crops. They lay dead in my tracks, barricading the pathway through the garden. The thick maize stalks were severed at their base. No way a cutworm could’ve sawed its way through the hardy stalks. No jagged evidence of goat teeth, either. I knelt to …

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Keeping Beekeeping in the Family

Me and a stingless male drone bee.

There’s no secret about the Mugabi family’s sweet success story in the small town-center of Kabale in southwestern Uganda: honey bees and lots of them. “How did you come to raise bees?” I asked Miracle, a young man in his mid-twenties who was tending to the counter of the Bungoni …

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Un poco de todo agriculture

Diversity is key: evident in the garden and the harvest.

A little bit of everything equals diversity. Diversity, say agroecologists worldwide, is key to resilience. And resilience, as we all know, is what’s required to cope with and adapt to changing weather patterns. Large-scale agriculture, mechanized agriculture, industrial agriculture, modern agriculture, Monsanto inspired agriculture; however you wanna call it, I’m talking …

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A Complicated Cup – Coffee & Poverty in Uganda

Early morning contemplations on a complicated substance.

I’ve been brewing (pun intended) over the subject of coffee in Uganda since the first morning I woke up and enjoyed a strong cup of Nescafe – coffee that was produced in Uganda, processed in the US and shipped back to Uganda for my own consumption. I haven’t yet written …

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Oysters in my Closet – Propagating Food and Environmental Solutions

Planet Awesome.

A wee childhood dream came true last week: I’m growing oyster mushrooms in my closet. I was somewhat of a strange child, disturbed by Barbie dolls with their pointy tits and, instead, obsessed with pug-nosed trolls with electric blue hair. On camping excursions with my family, I’d scurry off into …

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Vertical Growing – DIY Pallet Garden Project

Step 2

Inspired by last week’s kitchen garden project with the school kids in Rubira, I’ve been motivated to continue experimenting with vertical growing projects in our garden in Kabale, so we see what works and pass along the technologies to youth, too. I’ve always been a fan of using waste materials …

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Kids in the Garden – Cultivating Creativity in Rubira

The kids and Atayo making raised beds for vegetable production.

The garden is a good place to observe, learn and experiment. It’s also a great space for inspiring creativity in people of all ages, though particularly for children and youth. In the Fall of 2013, I facilitated my first composting workshop with my wonderful friend, Christina, who was teaching grade …

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Loving Your Rabbits and Eating Them, Too

Cute as a bunny.

One of my greatest learning lessons over the past twelve months has been breeding and raising rabbits for food security purposes. When I arrived in Uganda over a year ago, my first assignment with KIHEFO was to research and write a proposal on the benefits of raising rabbits as a low-cost …

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Humble Lessons from Landslides & Everything Permaculture is Not

The earth moves in miraculous, frustrating ways.

Last week I wrote about African proverbs, garden wisdom and the power of patience and confidence against what we can’t predict in life, including the rain and sun and whatever other element Mother Nature casts our way (or doesn’t). Oddly enough, all of the above manifested with extremity since I …

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Germination & African Proverbs

Cucumber seedling that survived "cat landing" in my nursery.

Ugandans often speak in proverbs to make a point. My boyfriend, Atayo does it constantly. “Even if you don’t see any rocks on the road, you may trip over a stone,” he’s says with a cautionary tone in his voice. “What?” I respond, a bit exasperated. “What are you trying …

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On the Road, In the Air, Across the Ocean Again – Uganda, Round Two

Tofino, BC, Canada

Well, Americas – it’s been a wildly wonderful couple of months. From Uganda to Edmonton, Canada to Comitancillo, Guatemala to Nicaragua – back to Edmonton, up to the frozen valley of Peace River, Edmonton and all things Edmonton, again, over to Canada’s warmer coastline to the west, Victoria to Tofino …

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