Permaculture for Governor's Mfangano Island Camp

Mfangano lies on the Eastern part of Lake Victoria in the Homa Bay county of Kenya.

The island covers 65 km² with a population of approximately 17,000 and home to the Wasuba tribe who were originally refugees from Uganda around 400 years ago.

Traditionally the people of the Island are fishermen. They fish for ‘omena’ sardines at night, Nile Perch and Tilapia. These fish are netted in great numbers and with no regulated fish procedures the practices have become unsustainable with fish stocks seeing massive reductions over the past few years.  There is a minimal amount of subsistence farming carried out on the Island using the highly destructive slash and burn method which has rendered great swathes of the landscape barren and susceptible to erosion.

Tilapia Fish

Tilapia Fish

Our partnership with the camp formed with the aim to initiate a drastic change in mindset on the island hopefully allowing the local community to prosper with work, food and nutritional security. After an initial site visit, Governor’s camp sent two of their staff members to Kilifi where they successfully completed a Permaculture Design Course (PDC).

Some of the main project developments included:

  • Re - designing of a fully functional Shade House
  • Land regeneration | re -building and designing of vertical and horizontal growing beds
  • Intensive food production
  • Soil building through mulching and added biomass
  • Waste water management | Banana Circles
  • Designing and building herb spirals to create micro climates
  • Composting and Vermiculture (Wormery)
  • Sustainability, food security and community development at the local Kikrigu school

Shade House

The shade house was re designed to maximise available space and consists of a large propagation table and multiple propagation beds that is envisioned to contribute to the buffet table!

Outside Area

The existing beds were re-dug and re-shaped and compost was added. Four vertical bags were made with discarded shade net to use rocky areas as additional growing space. Old oil drums were also put to use as herb beds and sweet potato, cow peas, chia, chilies, coriander, parsley, ginger sukuma wiki, Irish potatoes, Thai basil, thyme and onions went into the soil...

Banana Circles | Permaculture Design

After assessing the land, we identified significant ground water loss. Installing a large banana circle meant exchanging wasted runoff  into banana food!. This guild also carries cassava, sweet potato, cowpeas, sugar cane and lemon grass. 

Herb Spiral

A very effective way of growing both sun loving and shade loving species in the same system. This was installed in an open area above the kitchen to make it easy for the chefs to access. 

Composting Area

Compost is a key component to healthy soils. At the camp we made three compost piles utilising all of the natural goodness available and the kitchen team will continue a regular rotation with all of their organics.

Wormery | Vermiculture

The existing compost bin was re designed into a fully functional wormery, transfroming kitchen waste into organic liquid fertiliser and worm castings. These will be used extensively in the garden and with the ever increasing market for organic technologies, this could also evolve into a lucrative side hustle!

We are very proud to share that Governor’s is well on their way to producing 80 percent of it's vegetables and fish by the end of 2018. This garden has become our show case and training centre for the local community and we plan to be running regular workshops held on building low emission and low consumption wood burners, eco friendly building techniques and encouraging sustainable agriculture, fish farming and aquaponics.

Kakrigu School

We have already implemented a project at a local primary school with some early wins. Together with Governor's we have found that through a connection with nature some of the children struggling academically have thrived and the community as a whole has rallied around the idea of sustainability raising funds amongst themselves to fence the school and donate seedlings.

The eventual goal is to spread the Permaculture message throughout the island and have a collective of farmers who can supply the camp and the island with food creating sustainability and abundance. 

To read further about the Mfangano Island Project and updates on other projects view our Permaculture Blog page