Sam’s Village is set in and surrounded by permaculture gardens.
Permaculture is a very wide ranging philosophy, but in a narrow sense it means growing plants together which support each other. For example in the “three sisters” method you plant maize, beans and pumpkins in the same bed.
At Sam’s Village, Kondwani Galanga and his team grow a cornucopia of crops: bananas, beans, aubergines, tomatoes, nasturtiums, cabbage, lettuce, masamba (traditional Malawian greens), marigolds, moringa, carrots, peppers… The produce is eaten at lunch for those living and working at Sam’s Village.
Growing different plants side by side, interspersed in the same beds, maintains the nutrient balance and water content of the soil. For example, beans are nitrogen fixers and replace nitrogen that other plants use up. As a tall plant, bamboo can support other plants (such as beans), and then be harvested to use for fences and roofs. As a low growing plant, cabbage can provide ground cover and prevent evaporation of precious water.
The permaculture approach to agriculture contrasts strongly to the monoculture practices in place across much of Malawi. If a farmer is dependent on just one crop (probably maize) then if the rains come too soon or too late he is extremely vulnerable to his crops failing and the subsequent famine. This situation across Malawi is a big problem. We support and promote permaculture as a sustainable alternative.
Our Permaculture Officer, Kondwani, maintains a seed bank to keep the gardens sustainable from year to year. Kondwani also shows interested visitors around the permaculture beds at Sam’s Village.
We now have a solar powered pump, using the Sam’s Village borehole water, which will feed an irrigation system to standpipe taps along the length of Sam’s Village. These taps will make it much easier to water the plants.
We are also developing permaculture gardens at our new office site in Njewa, Lilongwe.