Good people want to help

We decided to try the net for agricultural advice, and these are some of the replies to date

Re: [pfaf] Edible plants for model 20 acre organic farm in Mzuzu, Northern Malawi

On Mon, 23 Apr 2007 12:10:01 -0000, you wrote:

Hi,
We are a small development group called Wells for Zoë (www.wellsforzoe.org) working in Mzuzu, Northern Malawi. We are interested in finding out about and sourcing seeds to grow edible plants on a model 20 acre organic farm on land which receives little water. The land is given by the chief of a village in return for the provision of water pumps, and dams and other irrigation schemes to the village. This land is then used to grow food for sale to make money to help fund such schemes on a micro-credit basis. The ethos is ‘a hand up, not a hand out’. The irrigation schemes then feed water to the farms when there is no rainfall but water is limited.
Would anyone out there have any ideas on the most suitable plants and the best place to get them for delivery to Malawi for planting in June/July?

Reply
I think e-mailing Native Seeds/SEARCH might be a good idea. They
specialize in seeds for the American Southwest. The conditions there are
very hot and dry (such places as New Mexico and Arizona).
They have tepary beans, for example. These are good for hot and dry
conditions – as a Native American plant, maybe they’re not known in Africa.
They have other somewhat unusual Native American seeds.
http://www.nativeseeds.org/
You could certainly ask their advice. Maybe they’d give you some seeds,
even. See their ‘About Us’ page.
Echonet is another outfit that I think you should definitely email. They
give seeds and information to projects in the Third World.
http://www.echonet.org/
Last, NewCrop is a good resource for information on specific crops.
http://www.hort.purdue.edu/newcrop/default.html
Good luck with your project!
Pat
— Northern Pennsylvania
‘Every one of us can do something to protect and care for our planet.
We should live in a way that makes a future possible.’
– Thich Nhat Hanh

Reply
altho your project sounds both interesting and worthy, i am afraid i cannot
help you. My experiences for thirty years in the andes mountains of south
america mainly included tropical climes 500 to 2000 meters above sea level.
although iit was dry during the dry seasons, when it rained (generally from
december to march) it really rained! in drier areas however, such as the
coast of peru, there wsas considerable production of carob, olies and
dates.\
i hope your project , excuse the pun, blooms.
peace and good luck!
dsmaikito

Reply
Hello there
I used to work at Sunseed Desert Technology in Spain and we tried various
agricultural techniques to grow edible tree species. Originally we planted
things like Acacia, in an attempt to reforest a desert area. The trees grew well
but became invasive and were not a particularly useful crop. Also the fake
pepper tree, pistacio and eucalyptus did well. When I arrived I decided to try
and reforest only with native tree species and attempted to create a
microclimate using other scrub species interplanted with the crop trees and an
attempt to reduce drought problems. In this place we used carob, olives,
rosemary and the other drought tolerant scrubs such as lemon verbena, cistus
etc. Also pistachio would grow, with peanuts grown between. I would strongly
recommend a forest garden approach.
Hope this helps a bit. Gardening in such a place is equally down to effective
water management. This is crucial and can make the difference between a drought
tolerant tree surving or perishing. Mulching etc….
michael lasky

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