Saturday, February 6, 2010

Post PDC - busy times

A Sabina chicken surveys the world outside the coop

Hello from me, Michele Sabto, assistant program manager from Jan-Feb 2010. Cameron Cross and Symmone Gordon are the new program managers, and have hit the ground running with new outdoor classroom construction, waste management plan, and much more. They are ably assisted by new Ugandan intern James Kolokola, who also teaches at the nearby Mbuye farm school.

In the quiet week after the PDC, before the children returned, Alex, a teacher from nearby Mbuye Farm School, visited and toured the site with Eric, a PDC student from France. With Symmone and I in tow, me with camera in hand, Eric and Alex identified over 40 native plants with edible and medicinal properties - not the well known mangoes, avocados and paw paws, but lesser known plants that many would dismiss as weeds. Among them are a type of oxalis (Oxalis corniculata) that is edible raw and has a tasty sweet flavour, and Black jack (Bidens spilosa), a plant whose leaves are edible when cooked. The outcome of this research will be a booklet, 'Plants at Sabina', which I'm putting together - stay tuned for its iminent internet release.

Eric PDC student, and Alex, a teacher at nearby Mbuye Farm School, with Alex's reference works on edible and medicinal plants in Uganda

The main vegetable garden is producing nutritious bounty, including cabbages, pumpkins, squash, dodo (amaranth), many different types of eggplant, kale (known as sukuma wik, in Luganda, pronounced sqwoomaweetch), nakati, ceylon spinach, and more. Harvesting happens in the morning, with the harvest handed to the kitchen staff who add it to the beans that are part of the daily posho (maize porridge)-and-beans diet of the children. The fresh garden produce is added towards the end of the cooking period so that the nutrients are preserved. Here is Mattias, one of the Sabina cooks, checking out some of the morning's harvest.

And here is the finished product, a tasty and nutritious combination of beans, squash, pumpkin, eggplant, capsicum, and greens (dodo and nakati). 

The children are getting to know the garden. Here is Violetta and her friend Philip enjoying green peppers and bitter eggplant in the main vegetable garden.

Thanks to the 67-strong brood of chickens, the children are now eating one egg per child per week, which is apparently a Ugandan nutritional standard. The eggs are large with strong hard shells and bright yellow yolks.

Two youngsters at the school, Daniel and Stephen, feed and water the chooks and collect the eggs. This is a big undertaking for them as they must do it before and after school. They were trained by Kim and Clive, the previous program managers, and are doing an excellent job. They are occasionally helped by Samuel, shown here preparing greens for the chooks. Each day the chooks get big bunches of greens from the garden, including comfrey but also a wide range of 'weeds', including many of those identified by Eric and Alex. Extensions to the chicken runs to allow the chickens more space to gather their 'green pick' are underway. We believe this will raise egg production even more.


Despite all the hard work, there is still time for play. Here a game of scrabble is underway, played in Luganda of course!

One of my big ongoing jobs has been sorting out the seed room. It now has a set of recycled shelves, salvaged from an old disused chook yard. After cleaning them thoroughly, Nyero Christopher and I painted them a jaunty blue colour and I set about organising the seeds. Seeds are now stored in alphabetical order on the shelves, and I have put many into sealed containers which I recycled from around the site and cleaned. A seed log book records all the seeds held in the room, along with details such as expiry date, source, planting notes, and culinary and other uses. Anyone can now look in the log to see if we hold a particular seed. So that this recording and cataloguing continues, I have written up seed room rules to be pinned to the seed-room wall. We hope to have these translated into Luganda soon.

I've enjoyed my time at Sabina and am looking forward to reading future blog posts about the exciting developments underway, as Cam, Symmone, James, and of course the children and staff of Sabina, take permaculture at Sabina to the next stage. 

Michele Sabto (that's me!) in the main vegetable garden


Jan Smart said...

Thanks for keeping us in touch with life at Sabina Michele - and bigger thanks for all you achieved and inspired in two short months. Looking forward to seeing you very soon. love Jan

jairus' daughter said...

This is super!! If you don't mind, I'd love to ask for full-resolution copies of these photos for printing in some COU education work. If you wouldn't mind sending me some, give me an email... talitha (*dot*) phillips *(at)*

thanks!! and thanks for all your hard work!
Talitha (COU Board member)

Hellen said...

Michele,well-done!That is a very brillant practical presentation about Permaculture.Thank you for being apart of sabina and helping in building Uganda's future generation through eating health!Thank you for the free lesson about permaculture and eating health.
a big hug,

pleses smail gaine said...

I love readding, and thanks for your artical.........................................

David Rivera Ospina said...

It is admirable the work that make you, Congratulations
Cordial greeting

于毓 said...

新的一天 祝你有所成長~~ ....................................................

Di said...

Michele, when you write it all done you realise how much you did in such a little time. Amazing stuff and a post that will keep me inspired to keep going. Thanks for getting it all down. Can't wait to go back!

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