Our Moon’s kitchen produces 45 meals a day and provides regular fresh fruit and vegetables for a further 11 staff members and their families daily. When there is a glut, other workers and local villagers are allowed to take what they need too.
We have done this without adding cost to our food budget! Last August, we decided to start up a small garden to produce some vegetables. One thing led to another and we saw it as an opportunity to develop a much larger garden for Our Moon’s staff and students to eat healthier and better, nutritionally-balanced meals. Now it’s April 2023, and Iwell, our farmer, together with help from our workers, has managed to create a sustainable, organic vegetable garden in our woodlands. He explains:
“We wanted to create a beautiful, functional vegetable garden. So, we moved away from the open sunlight, which has both been interesting and challenging. There was something aesthetically appealing about planting amongst the trees – something environmentally refreshing – but in reality, this is also a natural habitat to many pests and insects in and above the soil. In addition, being located on a gravel mound, the ground heats up very quickly and raised temperatures often kill the shallow-root vegetables.
As a result, we have attempted to keep the soil healthy in the gardens by the regular application of wood ash that we collect from our fireplaces and the braziers. We also add animal manure and the compost our students have been making. With all that, comes the challenge of labour. Adding wood ash and animal manure to the soil requires a good number of hands.
Another challenge has been water; the pressure is low, and high water demanding vegetables like lettuce, cabbage, cauliflower, Chinese cabbage and carrots, are stunted and the taste is not as good as we had hoped.
Therefore, it is fair to assume that our biggest challenge is the need to improve our soil quality, but with limited budgets, water and labour make the problem much worse. Nonetheless, this inspires our creativity as we persevere to sustain high quality meals.
The gardens so far are providing a wide variety of vegetables to our community. Since the beginning of this journey, we’ve managed to produce a variety of salad items and leafy vegetables, fruits, root vegetables, herbs and spices, Our Moon’s workers have also benefitted from the surplus fruit and vegetables, and are able to take it home to their families, so even more people are able to benefit.
Our goal for the gardens this year is to plant more crops that are less water demanding, such as sweet potatoes and cassava, and fewer leafy vegetables. This will give us time to improve the soil, as well as enable us to provide adequate water to improve the quality of the outputs.”