Not Just another track

Karine Polwart

By the time I get to this third track on the album, I feel like a small boy in a sweet shop, where every choice is beyond my imaginings. I was musically introduced to my third artist by Éamonn, and when I heard Daisy, I was totally smitten. It was love at first listen and what I’m missing is that I still haven’t heard her live or met her yet.

It was the words, the sound, the passion and understanding, and the little touches of Scottish accent, that wowed me: all seeming easily appropriate and truly fascinating. I thought: this is the one to salute my Malawi women (little did I know). Karine Polwart is unique, a one off, who has a way with words and a voice that can talk the talk!

I asked Éamonn if we could get the loan of a song from her, but he said no, she will write one, and so she did, a most amazing tribute to not only my Malawi women, but also to Zoë, the late and only daughter of Richard and Sue Cansdale, to whom the Charity Wells for Zoë is dedicated.
This is a kind of, bespoke anthem, with all the emotion and feeling of our approach to development in remotest Northern Malawi, where some of the most fascinating women in the world live.

The track is called Well for Zoë and Tim O’Brien (again), does his own super stuff, AND, I feel that when you hear the inimitable Stuart Duncan on fiddle, weaving so sensitively through the fabric, you will feel the emotion too.

About Karine Polwart



“soul cleansing” (Q January 2008)

“takes the heart to places few singers even know exist” (WORD January 2008)

“righteous and beautiful” (MOJO, April 06)
“grippingly understated storytelling” (THE TIMES, June 06)

“beautifully formed tunes and observations that are not afraid of big questions and soft emotions” (IRISH TIMES, May 06)

“Polwart’s skill is to make these deeply personal tales utterly universal” (TIME OUT, April 06)

The bittersweet, cascading harmonies of “The Good Years” sets the tone for Karine Polwart’s new album This Earthly Spell (Hegri04). And it’s been a good year indeed for The Scottish Borders based singer, who gave birth to her first child in 2007, and still managed to record enough material for not one but two new albums on her own label imprint Hegri Music.

Following the fireside intimacy of Scottish traditional collection Fairest Floo’er (Hegri03, Dec 2007), This Earthly Spell reinforces Polwart’s reputation as a humane and perceptive songwriter who draws on indie and roots influences as much as folk traditions.

The chiming opening track, a gorgeous vocal setting of a lyric by eminent Scots poet Edwin Morgan, gives way to the steely, swampy “Sorry”, whilst the delightful jazz inflected whimsy of “The News” contrasts the anti-nuclear political bite of “Better Things” and the incisive “Painted It White”. Unsurprisingly, for a new mum, three songs deal with motherhood. The poignant understatement of “Firethief”, which Polwart wrote originally for HIV/AIDS documentary “The Enemy That Lives Within”, one of BBC Radio 2’s Radio Ballads, unravels a mother’s loss; whilst she wrote the tender and delicate “Rivers Run” for her own son. But it’s the eerie and atmospheric parable “Tongue That Cannot Lie” that, most of all, betrays Polwart’s background as a former philosophy teacher, and her ongoing fascination with moral ambivalence. Inspired by the supernatural legend surrounding thirteenth century Scottish Borders poet and prophet Thomas The Rhymer, it also distinguishes her as an ambitious and captivating storyteller.

Most of the album was recorded just a few miles away from her Borders home at the beautiful Heriot-Toun visual arts studio which she and her live band, with producer Calum Malcolm, transformed into a unique and intimate recording environment. But despite the rural influences, there’s nothing escapist or sentimental about this collection of songs.

It’s three years since Polwart scooped a trio of BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards, including “Best Album” for her debut Faultlines and “Best Original Song”, an accolade she won for a second time in 2007. In the meantime, she’s released two further solo albums, Scribbled in Chalk and Fairest Floo’er, and collaborated with the likes of Roddy Woomble and cult Glasgow indie outfit Future Pilot AKA. And she shows no sign of slowing down:

“More and more I feel like an album captures just a wee slice of time. I’m already working on new ideas and will be making new songs available through my website on a monthly basis this year for people who’re interested. I think it’s more and more important now for songwriters like me to offer something more than just a static piece of work.”

Off the road, Karine is likely to be found tramping the hills near the home in Southern Scotland, which she shares with bandmate, producer and partner Mattie Foulds, singing to herself and her wee son Arlo and looking for herons.


This is one, we should be cheering

Can Bill Gates Help Africa Feed Itself?
From Time World
By Vivienne Walt / Paris Thursday, Sep. 25, 2008Yasuyoshi Chiba / AFP / Getty
The global economy might be reeling from the shakeout on Wall Street, but two of the world’s richest businessmen are vowing to spend tens of millions of dollars more — not on bolstering their own companies, but in helping the world’s poorest. With Congress locked in talks over a mammoth bailout package, Bill Gates and Howard Buffett (Warren’s oldest son) announced at the United Nations on Wednesday that their private foundations will plow more than $75 million into helping small farmers in Africa and Latin America to sell their crops as food aid — a move which could potentially overhaul the decades-old — and often criticized — global food aid system.

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Under a five-year pilot project called Purchase for Progress, the foundations will help 350,000 or so small farmers in 21 countries, most of them in Africa, to grow food for the U.N.’s World Food Program, the biggest food aid distributor in Africa. Rather than simply buying the farmers’ crops outright, much of the money will go to teaching better farming methods, and to helping them store their crops in warehouses, plant higher-yield seeds, and transport their produce to customers. Those are all serious obstacles for poor farmers, many of whom find it almost impossible to eke out more than a bare-bones existence from their plots.

With WFP as a guaranteed client, many poor farmers will be eligible for credit with which to buy seeds and fertilizer, and perhaps employ people to help harvest the crops. “Once a farmer’s group wins a contract they can take it to a local bank,” says Rajiv Shah, director of agricultural programs for the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. “They can show that not only do they have the means to produce but a market to sell it.” Gates told reporters on Wednesday that he aimed to “transform the way small holders are able to get to market.” And WFP executive director Josette Sheeran called it “a revolution in food aid.”

The revolution is long overdue, say advocacy groups. Organizations such as Oxfam and the London-based think tank Overseas Development Institute are critical of traditional food aid programs because they depend so heavily on western agricultural producers, such as the U.S. and Europe, and fail to help farmers in poor countries. When a crisis hits, as it did in Ethiopia this summer, the WFP typically asks governments to donate millions in emergency funds to feed people. That help comes either in food supplies or in cash, which the organization then uses to buy huge quantities of rice, maize and other staples from large-scale distributors. Aside from disasters like famines or earthquakes, the WFP also regularly feeds many poor people, including millions of children in school feeding programs; it estimates it will feed about 90 million people in some 80 countries this year. Yet despite its giant mandate and global scope, it buys “only a small percentage from small farmers,” says WFP spokeswoman Laura Melo. “We have not targeted small farmers.”

The injection of western food aid into a poor economy hurts local farmers by depressing prices, even in an emergency. That makes it even harder for millions of small farmers to buy the high-priced fertilizer or fuel they need to compete. “The backbone of world agriculture is small farmers,” says Joaquim von Braun, director general of the International Food Policy Research Institute in Washington. “We will only grow out of the food crisis if these people have access to markets.”

Politics is partly to blame. U.S. laws state that the $1.5 billion or so in food donated yearly by the United States — the world’s biggest food donor — must be grown by American farmers and shipped on U.S.-flagged vessels, despite costing billions of dollars. “Congress has been very protectionist about its food-aid program,” says Gawain Kripke, policy director of Oxfam America, which has pushed hard for changes in the U.S. laws. “The U.S. is a massive contributor of food aid, but a very inefficient one.”

While the U.S. government has long dominated American aid, organizations like the Gates Foundation, which has nearly $36 billion in endowments, have become serious players in international programs. It will provide $66 million to the project, while the Howard G. Buffett Foundation will give $9 million; another $750,000 will come from the Belgian government for aid programs only in the Democratic Republic of Congo. “It sets a very important example,” says von Braun. It could also change the WFP itself from a purely humanitarian organization into one which helps poor farmers — and so ultimately weans millions off food aid. Says Shah of the Gates Foundation: “This is a market-based initiative.” Open markets may be out of favor right now. But this is one we should be cheering for.

Some Sisters doing it for themselves (and others)

Plans of the (proposed) orphan day care centre, outside the civic offices, well in the car park!!

Mbawemi Women’s group
Women are the one great hope for Malawi, and none more so than this group led by Mercy Timba, Beatrice and Dorothy, who cornered me one day in Sonda and said they needed our help. After serious investigation we have discovered that they are the real deal.
They have a membership of 50 women who pay 500 Mk (2 20 euro) of an annual subscription to generate a capital fund.
They are on the ground leaders in women’s and children’s human and civil rights, encouraging women to be self motivated.
They work with women on self esteem encouraging them to start little businesses: when I first met them they were holding a rally encouraging and enabling women to register to vote in the forthcoming elections.
They have a few small projects in chickens, farming and bee keeping which funds the pala (porridge) to feed the orphans and other starving youngsters in their day care centre. (To use the term centre is to allow your imagination to go wild). They also sponsor 28 students in Secondary schools.
Their bee keeping project is one we will be funding, because it’s excellent. The Commonwealth Secretariat through the Ministry for Industry and Trade sponsored a group of 30 women for 30 days training in bee keeping, with ten were chosen to be trainers. They now have 300 bee hives, sell honey in local shops, make candles, skin lotion and beeswax. As often happens, in Malawi, funding ran out and these amazing women are left alone, under trained and seriously under capitalized. Charity, our financial controller, and one serious sister!, is now looking in to their needs for our zero interest facility and I’m looking at the business model

Mbaweme Orphan day care and Nursery
In 2003 the parents and women in the Salisbury Line area of Mzuzu City approached the Chief, Mr Gondue with the intention of getting permission to set up a school for orphans, the 3 to 4 year olds. These orphans are usually living with extended family who are generally can’t feed their own and are experiencing great difficulty under the strain of so many extra dependants.
The first teacher started in 2004. They now have two excellent teachers Lontian Nkhana and Elube, supportd by parents Thelma and Fanita.
Many parents are single mothers, often young and illiterate, deserted, neglected and abused, many without a birth cert, a name, a home or a future past the next meal.
Children come to school starving and have to be fed. Pala is provided daily, if it’s available. The old, gogo, grandparent, carers get pala as well.
The school garden provides some small amount of food. The school building would be condemned as a cattle shelter anywhere else. They have large numbers and little hope of improvement.
The big problem is, as with elsewhere is leadership, community leadership. The chiefs are an excuse, holding court, meeting, in the way of any kind of progress, without any real power or influence where it matters, and are only rarely a force for good.
So back to the sisters.
They can do it with a little help in spite of all the negativity surrounding the empowerment of women.
As I said before W4Z are on it, supporting the people who are doing.!
Malawi needs Malawian role models in local communities and even though they are accused, by their own, of being bewitched or of getting money for themselves, there are people in every community who stick with the programme and bring about change. We can’t do it ourselves, but in this case, we know people who can.

The Album: Sisters are doing it for themselves

The Album: Sisters are doing it for themselves
My first connection with Africa was funding a women’s project in Ethiopia, as I believe that supporting women’s community programs makes the greatest impact. When Eamonn told me that Tim O’Brien and himself, after a long night in Edinburgh, copious amounts of water and music a plan had emerged to salute my sisters in Malawi, with my favourite anthem.
Little did I know that Tim would pull off a musical miracle. I have been a fan of Maura O’Connell since I first heard her, Tim is a musical genious, John Doyle has always reminded me of what George Best might be like if he took up the guitar and my new friends, of last year :the Duhks, make such a memorable burst of sound, that is the greatest salute I could have hoped for, to my empoverished but fascinating women. I haven’t forgotten the part played by Gary, Alison and Compass and I salute you all. What a blast!!

Maura O’Connell
Born and raised in County Clare, Ireland, Maura O’Connell was the third of four singing sisters. However, it wasn’t ancient Celt folk tunes in which that household was drenched but their singing mother’s collection of light opera, opera and parlor song records. As a young woman, she joined the tradition-oriented Celtic band DeDannan but grew intrigued by the experimental roots music of America’s New Grass Revival when the bands’ paths crossed.
In 1986, she followed that sound to America — and to Nashville. Newgrass masters such as banjoist Bela Fleck and Dobro stylist Jerry Douglas (who has appeared on all of O’Connell’s discs but one) and a floating contingent of adventurous Nashville hands have provided backup and production for most of her recorded work — including the Grammy-nominated Helpless Heart and Blue Is the Color of Hope for Warner Bros., Stories and the Irish-oriented Wandering Home for Hannibal/Rykodisc, Walls and Windows and Don’t I Know for Sugar Hill.
Regarded as one of Nashville’s finest musical interpreters and one who prefers songs that other people haven’t recorded yet, O’Connell has gathered material from acclaimed writers such as Mary Chapin Carpenter, Shawn Colvin, John Gorka, Patty Griffin, Jim Lauderdale, Kim Richey, Leslie Satcher, Ron Sexsmith, Mindy Smith and Cheryl Wheeler, to name a few.
Aside from the music world, Martin Scorsese cast O’Connell, scruffed up for the role, as an Irish migrant street singer in his 19th century epic The Gangs of New York.

Tim O’Brien:
Born in Wheeling, West Virginia, Tim O’Brien grew up listening to big band and jazz music. His earliest musical memories included listening to Benny Goodman and Lawrence Welk. When still in his teens, he started listening to a local country music show that was recorded live at a local theater. He began attending tapings of the show, and there he saw performers liks Merle Haggard and Roger Miller. Soon, O’Brien began learning Scruggs’ Style banjo from one of his girlfriend’s psychiatrist father’s patients. The patient was Roger Bland, a former member of Lester Flatt’s band. He then restrung his father’s old mandolin and began teaching himself how to play that instrument. He attended Colby College in Maine for one year, before moving first to Wyoming, then to Colorado. There, he formed the groundbreaking bluegrass group Hot Rize. While performingwith Hot Rize, O’Brien met country singer Kathy Mattea, who later had hits with her versions of his songs. Soon after, O’Brien left Hot Rize to pursue a career as a solo singer/songwriter. After a failed attempt at recording an album for RCA, O’Brien eventually signed a deal with Sugar Hill Records in Nashville. His debut solo album, Odd Man was released in 1991.
Hot Rize had a brief reunion in 1996, and have re-merged a few times since then. O’Brien has released 13 albums on Sugar Hill Records, and has received Grammy Awards and IBMA Awards for his incredible work.

John Doyle
There may be no one in Irish music busier than John Doyle these days and long may it last.
As one half of the stellar duo of Liz Carroll and John Doyle, and along with his many solo performances, recording, producing and composing gigs, his schedule rivals that of any music industry star. For an artist of such relative youth, John has made an ever-growing reputation for himself as singer, guitar master, producer, songsmith, arranger and performer.
From a musical family in Dublin, John’s influences include well known English folk singers Nic Jones, Martin Carthy, Richard Thompson, and The Watersons; Scottish singers Dick Gaughan and John Martin; and fellow Irishmen Paul Brady and Al O’Donnell as well as his father, Sean Doyle
After leaving Solas, John has gone on to perform and tour with other greats in the Folk, Celtic and Bluegrass worlds – Eileen Ivers, Tim O’Brien (John was included on Tim’s 2006 Grammy-award winning CD, Fiddler’s Green), Linda Thompson, Kate Rusby, Cathie Ryan He has appeared on soundtracks for the feature film, The Brothers McMullan, Soldier, PBS’s Out of Ireland and also composed the music for the film Uncle Robert’s Footsteps and the play Down the Flats
Impossibly in demand in the studio and on the road, immensely talented and blessed with an acute ear, a wicked sense of rhythm and seemingly endless bag of tricks in his playing, composing, performing and producing, John is solidly establishing himself as one of the most versatile, creative and prolific voices in folk and traditional Irish music.
John was honored by Irish American Magazine in March of this year by being named one of the “Top 100 Irish Americans”. An honor to be included with the likes of many internationally known authors, scholars, business people, humanitarians and people in the medical field, as well as former President Bill Clinton!

The Duhks
The Winnipeg, Manitoba-based Duhks have always gravitated towards traditional roots-based song structures, but they’ve never stopped evolving since their inception five years ago. Due in part to a collective musical worldview that knows no boundaries, that evolution led the band to their latest offering Fast-Paced World, the first Duhks record to feature wunderkinds Sarah and Christian Dugas (replacing vocalist Jessee Havey and percussionist Scott Senior respectively). The French-Canadian born siblings have been immersed in music their whole lives, thanks in part to their musician parents. “We had a family band that toured across Canada when I was 7 and Christian was 9,” remembers Sarah. “My father had a recording studio in the house, so I grew up hearing a variety of musicians playing everything from rap to rock to world beat. I grew up in a fun and creative environment .”Environmental issues are a passion for the band, inspiring them to launch The Duhks Sustainability Project ( in October 2007. Spearheaded by Tania Elizabeth, the band’s goal is to “tour on as sustainable a basis as possible; fueling our vehicle with Biodiesel, supporting local organic farmers wherever we go, wearing sustainable eco-conscious clothing, using earth-friendly shampoos, soaps and cosmetics and offsetting remaining CO2 emissions with carbon credits.”Ultimately, according to Leonard, the Duhks’ ” just want to play music that speaks to everybody.” Mission accomplished.

Alison Brown

The Album: Alison Brown

About Alison Brown

When we needed help to spread the Wells for Zoe message and pay tribute to the amazing women of remote, rural, Malawi in musical form, our very dear friend Alison was up to the challenge straight away. With husband Gary, they couldn’t have been more helpful and it couldn’t have happened without them. It is said if you want a job done, go to a busy person, so read on

Since founding Compass Records ten years ago, banjo virtuoso Alison Brown has been a busy woman. In addition to running what Billboard Magazine calls “one of the greatest independent labels of the last decade” and releasing three critically-acclaimed albums including the 2001 Grammy-winner Fair Weather, she has maintained an international touring schedule, playing over 60 dates a year in the US and abroad. “We [Brown and husband/bass player/label co-founder Garry West] used to think it was difficult to find time for writing music when we were just touring and running the record company, but since my daughter Hannah and then Brendan came along, I’ve been amazed at how often my hands are occupied with everyday chores – cooking, straightening up, changing diapers.…It’s been a challenge to carve out a place for my own music in the midst of everything.”

The title of Brown’s recent release, Stolen Moments, is a nod to the task of balancing work and parenthood with her own creativity. “We were literally stealing moments in between everything else,” she said of both the writing and recording of the CD. “We would do a take, then run down to the office and answer emails or make sure the three o’clock babysitter had shown up before the morning babysitter left.
Alison Brown began her music career at a young age, playing banjo in several Southern California bands alongside fiddler Stuart Duncan as a teenager. After graduating from high school, bluegrass took a back seat while Brown attended Harvard University, earned an MBA, and worked as an investment banker. Following successful tours with both Alison Krauss and Michelle Shocked, a Grammy-nomination for her first solo effort Simple Pleasures, and the Banjo Player of the Year award from the International Bluegrass Music Association, Brown put her business skills to work, founding Compass Records in 1995 with her husband Garry West. Brown’s discography includes 5 releases on Vanguard Records as well as 4 on the Compass Records label. Brown tours internationally with the Alison Brown Quartet, has been a guest speaker at Harvard Business School, Dartmouth’s Amos Tuck School and the University of Colorado Boulder, and currently serves as an Adjunct Professor at Vanderbilt University’s Blair School of Music.
Alison Brown’s Myspace page:

The Wonderful Sea Voyage (of Holy St. Brendan) is the ABQ track on the album, which recalls the unbelievable expedition of St Brendan and his monks from Ireland to Newfoundland, long before Columbus and maybe his inspiration.

Saint Brendan – The Navigator

Saint Brendan was born near Fenit in 484. He travelled extensively and founded several monasteries. Many places are named after him: places in Ireland, England, Scotland, the Faeroes and Brittany. There is compelling evidence to suggest that he visited Greenland; Iceland; Newfoundland and other places in North America.
The traditional craft used in this period was made with leather over a wooden frame. Tim Severn, the modern-day explorer, studied up on St. Brendan and crossed the Atlantic in a replica boat. This boat is on display at Craggaunowen, a historical interpretative centre, near the village of Quinn in Co. Clare
Saint Brendan is the Patron Saint of the Navy of the United States of America.
The track always brings me into the sea journey and suggests the power of the human will. St Brendan asked his monks to launch out into the deep unknown, with faith and belief. I feel this is something one does when heading for Malawi.
The new version on the album has John Doyle and Eamonn Coyne pulling some oars in this amazing composition, by Alison.
Just what I had dreamed of: a strong, bright, creative woman, like Alison, helping to give a voice to my other strong, illiterate, bright and beautiful women in Malawi, who are enslaved by poverty, tradition, religion and the world. Not a St Brendan in sight but:Sisters doing it for one another!

Thank you Alison, Gary, Hannah and Brendan and all the gang at Compass.

To hear a little taste from the Album click here

Going back to my roots

We have just purchased about 15 acres of land from the local chief in Lusangazi. Charity, our new financial controller and HR person found out that the land was for sale, viewed it and did the deal. Final negotiations, for some extensions to the land, to include access to water are under way and when complete will open a whole new research project for us.
We hope it can become a co operative model farm, moving towards an organic, non pesticide, open pollinated seed oasis, in the midst of hybrids and chemicals.
The cost of artifical fertilizer has almost trebled in the past year and even with huge subsidies is beyond the rural, poor, subsistence farmers.
We are proposing to use compost, which everyone talks about and no one does regularly, (maybe because it’s hard work!), combined with green manure plants, which we have begun to research.
The soil is depleted from years of organic neglect, as is most of the soil I come across. Years of burning off the organic matter, sometimes as their culture for finding and catching wild animals, has often turned their soil into useless sand. Sadly, all they find nowadays in their orgy of burning, are mice and small birds, which creates other problems in pest control.
One has to be mad to tackle all these cultural and educational barriers, but I have for some time now, understood that to make any progress in Malawi, madness is an essential requirement.
Buying the land means we can control the process, employ the workers to do things a different way, without the interference or control of chiefs or traditional leaders, who can sometimes hinder progress.
Naturally all the workers will be Malawians, who will be invited to come together as a co operative, with a share in the venture. This will mean housing, water and the provision of a decent standard of living and sufficient food until they can provide their own. Each family will have their own vegetable garden, from which they should have their own vegetables and fruit. One good thing about the location is that the children can go to the local school, which we are already supporting.
The plan is to begin sowing maize, ground nuts, cassava and a selection of trees including fruit trees. We know that pineapples do well and we will try a little coffee. We will do some intercropping with soya and crops for pest control.
This will happen in this rainy season (late November), when we will have to initially use some of the dreaded chemical fertilizer. Towards the end of the harvest we will plant the green manures, which we hope to produce the equivalent of 1kg of farm yard manure per square metre. These will also give us ground cover, keeping the weeds down, retaining water and protecting micro organisms from the sun.
None of this will be simple or without headaches. Changing cultures or mind sets is not easy. We will win some and lose some as usual, but we have to keep trying.
Long term we will provide extra accommodation, as we are doing at the vegetable farm, so that we can invite other developing farmers to come and look at what we are trying and learn from them as well.
We need the help of all good farmers everywhere, who are interested in feeding the hungry and maybe saving the soil for our children.
It will be exciting and frustrating, but for me, no more so than playing golf!
One of the headaches will be pest control without the use of chemical pollutants called pesticides. With a degree in chemistry and having a son who departed the agrichemical division of one of the major chemical companies, when he realized the harmful and poisonous cocktails which he was working on and helping to manufacture, to control pests, I realize that there has to be a better safer way: nature’s way. If you look at my articles on Cuban farming, you will see what can be done
In the vegetable farm we are trying companion planting
In theory, companion planting produces the highest yield per square metre and the greatest benefits, as long as care is taken to ensure that the crops do not compete too much with each other Stem borers (caterpillars of moths) are the major insect pests of cereal crops in eastern and southern Africa. Losses can reach as high as 80%, while those due to Striga range from 30 to 100% in most areas.
We will try and grow some maize with two other crops. One attracts stem borers, while the other repels them. Together they effectively protect the maize. Napier grass is the most effective. It is planted in the border around the maize fields where invading adult moths are attracted to it. Instead of landing on the maize plants, the insects are attracted to what appears to be a tastier meal. Napier grass has a particularly clever way of defending itself against the pest onslaught: once attacked by a borer larva, it secretes a sticky substance that physically traps the pest and effectively limits its damage. And so the natural enemies lurking among the grasses go into action.

The legume Desmodium repels stem borer moths. It is planted in between the rows of maize. Being a low-growing plant, it does not interfere with the crops’ growth and has the further advantage of maintaining soil stability and improving soil fertility through nitrogen fixation. It also serves as a highly nutritious animal feed. Other legumes have this effect as well, but Desmodium also effectively suppresses Striga.
Last year we bought 10 neem tree seedlings from the Land Resource Centre in Lilongwe and they are growing well.
Extracts from the Neem tree, are widely used worldwide. Neem extracts have an effect on nearly 400 species of insects, including major pests (moths, weevils, beetles and leaf miners). They do not kill insects directly, but effectively prevent their reproduction. Neem extracts can be prepared from leaves, but the seeds contain higher concentrations of insecticidal components.

We also use Papaya leaves: 1 kg of fresh leaves, shredded and soaked in 10 litres of water, add 2 teaspoons of petrol and a bit of soap, and leave it overnight. Sift the concoction through a cloth, and the spray is ready for application on the leaves of vegetables, to fight against leaf-eating caterpillars, aphids and true bugs.

Our people will take on this task with relish and love the idea of locally available solutions. They ask me is this research and I always reply; cutting edge. The fact that most are illiterate doesn’t mean they are stupid: far from it. We will try these and many, other possible solutions to try and achieve a truce with the enemy and as they say, watch this space!

Album Cover

Album Cover

Originally uploaded by wellsforzoe

Album Cover
Compass Records…
Sample tracks

The purchase of this CD helps to provide funding for future projects and assists in spreading the message of Wells for Zoë.

Putting their motto, “A hand up, not a hand-out” into practice, Wells for Zoë founders John and Mary Coyne (parents of tenor banjo player Éamonn Coyne) have assembled a top-notch collection of Celtic and Folk musicians for the purpose of aiding the local population of Northern Malawi in accessing fresh water and creating a sustainable living environment.

New tracks from Irish pop icon Sinead O’Connor and Scottish Borders-based singer Karine Polwart along with previously unreleased tracks from singer/songwriters Paul Brady and Dougie MacLean grace the album alongside a new version of an Alison Brown Quartet favorite and a genre-crossing version of the Eurythmics’ “Sisters are Doing it For Themselves” by Irish folk singer Maura O’Connell and Canadian folk band, The Duhks along with Tim O’Brien and John Doyle.

Track Listing
1) Well for Zoë – Karine Polwart & Tim O
2) Baby, Let Me Buy You a Drink – Sinéad O’Connor
3) Cumbia Celtica – Salsa Celtica
4) Wading Deep Waters – Crooked Still
5) Watermans – Michael McGoldrick 6) Sisters Are Doing It for Themselves – Maura O’Connell
7) The Wonderful Sea Voyage (of Holy St. Brendan) [New Version] – Alison Brown Quartet with John Doyle & Éamonn Coyne
8) I Find Your Love – Beth Nielsen Chapman
9) Just In Case of Accidents [Demo Version] – Paul Brady
10) The Lakeside Barndances – Éamonn Coyne & Kris Drever
11) This Love Will Carry [Previously Unreleased] Dougie Maclean
12) Muddy Water – Heidi Talbot