Namibia: community gardening initiative handed over to city fathers

Local actor, the city of Windhoek has now taken over the activities of Farm Okukuna, in the informal district of Goreangab in Windhoek. The World Future Council recently announced it in a statement, when it handed it over to the municipality.

Farm Okukuna was launched in 2018 as a three-partner project. The World Future Council, funded by the Liselotte Foundation, was responsible for management and fundraising. The Eloolo Permaculture Initiative facilitated the training. The city of Windhoek, which owns the land, acted as owner, providing the land, security and water.

“A project so successful that it is picked up by local stakeholders – that’s what you want to achieve as a donor,” said Ina Wilkie, senior project manager of the World Future Council. We wish the city of Windhoek all the best in continuing the work, ”she added.

Over the past three years, a wide range of programs have taken place at Farm Okukuna. Ina Wilkie of the World Future Council had taken the lead, also raising third-party funds from the German Liselotte Foundation and the UK Waterloo Foundation as well as the Southern African Innovation Support Fund (SAIS). What started as a community permaculture garden three years ago is now an established project.

According to Wilkie, community members have formed a voluntary association to manage the processes and income of the farm. 16 members take care of their individual gardens, producing food for their families and for sale. The process was accompanied by many facilitated discussions, training and investment in tools and infrastructure.

“My garden is really important to me,” said Auguste Kankono, resident of Goreangab. “It gives me an income and takes me away from the place. I get up early to come here and take care of my garden. My whole family is excited and my neighbors order me vegetables.

Compost, seedlings and natural repellants are produced at the Farm Okukuna Product Center.

The partners buy the materials and support the marketing. The products, however, belong to the producers who are people in the community. Each team member decides how much work he spends and therefore how much money he earns.

The products are developed in collaboration with local experts. The Okukuna SPICE compost, for example, an original idea by host Wiebke Volkmann, has already gained notoriety in the local market. It contains more carbon and nitrogen than other composts. It combines bacterial and fungal decomposition through an initial aerobic process that generates heat to kill weed seeds and pathogens, followed by low oxygen fermentation that breaks down the material faster. Farm Okukuna’s compost is sold at retail outlets such as Agrigro and at the Klein Windhoek Green Market on Saturdays. The monthly open houses at Farm Okukuna have also been an opportunity for sales and income generation.

“Compost production not only provides me with income, but also knowledge and experience,” said Halleluja Ruusa Inane, resident of Goreangab. “We really hope we can continue.”

From the start, the training center has been an integral part of Farm Okukuna. It focused on permaculture which is a way to grow food and organize your life with minimal external input and therefore ideal for people with little money. The trainings were facilitated by the Namibian Permaculture Initiative Eloolo and South African permaculture activists.

A masterclass program gave a local agriculture graduate the opportunity to acquire an additional qualification.

“As an agriculture graduate it is difficult to find a job. Most employers are looking for experienced people. It was fabulous for me to work here and to have the opportunity to learn how to plant and design. Permaculture really opened my eyes, ”explained Simon Indila. , the Masterclass student, resident of Goreangab. “We are doing something here that is really needed in the nation.”

Farm Okukuna was also an implementation site for the “Living Permaculture” project, funded by the Southern African Innovation Support Fund (SAIS). During this 18-month project, the cabin dwellers devised solutions that could make their lives easier: a pit bed that uses gray water from the bucket shower to grow food, insulation for the cabin cardboard that cools in summer and warms in winter, a compost bag to produce your own fertilizer, a simple gray water filter made up of two buckets or more.

“We definitely plan to continue this work,” said Wilkie.

The organization is currently developing a new project and is contacting potential partners and hosts.

“Our two paid employees don’t have to worry. We don’t want anyone to lose their jobs in these times. Smart solutions for cabin dwellers are needed more than ever and we look forward to a new project in place in this day and age. Namibia, ”she concluded. .