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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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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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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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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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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The Motorcycle Diaries – Research in Southwestern Uganda

uganda4

Anthropologists who study space and place often claim that one’s method of travel – for instance, flying in an airplane, riding a bicycle, or walking – has the power to uniquely shape their experiences and relationship with the land. Somehow I’m able to reflect back to their theory, as I’m pushing …

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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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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 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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On the Radio in Uganda – Talkin’ Bout Culture & Nutritional Revolution

At Hope Radio in Kabale, Uganda.

I had to swallow back a strong cup of coffee in order to stay up for the show. The radio program dubbed “Dr. KIHEFO” was slotted from 10 pm to midnight, so Carol and I left the house at 9:30 pm and moved through the pitch-black Monday night in the …

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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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The Breadbasket Paradox in Southwestern Uganda

Over 80% of Ugandans are involved in agriculture.

My first couple of weeks in Uganda have provided ample food for thought. I’m living in the town-centre (and district) of Kabale, which is located in the southwestern part of the country that borders with Rwanda to the south. It’s a long way from the capital city – nearly nine …

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