A New Vision for Visionary Women's Centre
Visionary Women’s Centre (VWC) is one of Spirit in Action’s multi-year partners. This is year three of a three-year commitment to support VWC’s activities to promote prosperity and economic independence among women and families in Turbo, Kenya. Today, we share an exciting update on their plans to become a financially independent organization.
Visionary Women’s Centre (VWC) shows western Kenya that women can own land! While women do a lot of the farm work, it is rare for women to have their names on the land titles. On a recent Zoom call, Lizette Gilday, a VWC co-founder with Benter Obonyo, told me about their new piece of land.
“Last summer, Benter and I had one of our regular weekly meetings on WhatsApp,” said Lizette. “We were brainstorming ways to enhance our organic gardening programme for our 165 members. We played with the idea of teaching how to build an inexpensive greenhouse with local materials. We found ourselves agreeing that if we were going to build a model greenhouse, we really should have our own piece of land on which to put it. So Benter was tasked with looking for a suitable piece of land.
“Before I knew it, we were investing in 0.7 acres!!! Donors stepped up, and Benter worked hard to find a suitable plot which would be productive, have good water and be accessible to our rural community. She has succeeded!”
VWC’s land is right off a paved road, meaning they can access it even during the rainy season when dirt roads are impassible. They are located in the heart of their community, near a school, cultural centre, and grain storage facility. The newly dug well is fifty feet deep and has a good water supply, even at the end of the dry season. When SIA African Advisory Board Member and farmer Dennis Kurgat visited the land, he was impressed with the good land and arable soil.
Permanent + Agriculture
VWC is embracing the concept of permaculture to develop its land into a model teaching farm and profitable business to support VWC into the future. Eliza, a trained agriculturalist, is on the VWC staff, and the group has engaged Josephat Barasa (JB) of the Practical Permaculture Institute of Kenya as a consultant.
VWC Members work the land together to plant bananas in time for the April rains. They are turning the soil with manure to enrich it with nutrients.
More from Lizette:
“The word permaculture comes from a combination of “permanent” + “agriculture,” that is to say, to design edible landscapes and food gardens so that they improve and support the local ecosystem.
“A permaculture garden is designed to mimic nature, and its design should follow natural principles. A permaculture garden is more than just an organic garden. While organic food production often has innovative elements, a permaculture-designed garden integrates each element into a functional relationship.
“The ethics of earth care, people care, and fair share form the foundation for permaculture design and are also found in most traditional societies.” (See permaculture resources.)
Eliza and JB are planning a dynamic and varied farm system on VWC’s land. Rather than plant just one crop and use expensive fertilizers, they are planning a forest vegetable garden with kale, other vegetables, bananas, and mango trees. They will use manure compost to fertilize the soil and cover crops to reduce evaporation.
The community is already noticing their efforts! VWC and JB were featured in a local news video, narrated in a combination of Swahili and English.