Shem Orwa Anditi , a tall rail thin, sweet hearted man who always astonishes us by the amount of dedication he has to his land and trying to implement permaculture and organic farming into his land and life. Shem, is a farmer and takes great pride as a farmer, his love of the land and endless energy. He has humbled all of us as a source of inspiration of what one individual can do if given the right knowledge and tools with guidance and persistence.
Shem Orwa Anditi, 64 years of age, married, seven children and fourteen granchildren, has made his entire life as a subsistence farmer on Rusinga Island, Wanyama Sub-location district.
Shem told us that when he married he was so poor, he could not afford the mandatory wedding gift of several cattle to his wife’s family. His brother gave him the money for the cattle. Years later, Shem’s brother passed away and Shem inherited his brother’s land, of 1 acre. Shem also has 4 acres of farmland, close to his brother’s land, near the lake and has been using some of the permaculture methods of food forests, terracing his land to capture water and using a living fence to try and keep out the animals. He has also been working on other people’s lands and said he didn’t realize how important it is to come back to your own land, instead of working on other people’s lands, which offers no food or financial security.
As a way of thanking his brother, Shem has been working his brother’s 1 acre since December, using all organic and permaculture principles as he wants to be able to give this back to his brother’s grandson, when he is older. “Sharing the surplus”, is what Shem learned from the PDC course in December, wanting to give back to his deceased brother. In five months, Shem has transformed a barren piece of land into a mini food forest, biodiverse plantings, companion planting, banana circles, and swales, which is helping him to evenly distribute the rainwater during the rainy season, learning new techniques of preventing soil erosion through ground cover crops and mulching, raised garden beds and biointensive double digging beds. Every workshop we have been teaching over the past three months, Shem, has gone right to his land to apply his new knowledge. After he finishes his brother’s land, he will go back to his own land and continue his work there with organic farming and permaculture.
Shem is also one of the chairpersons for RIOFA’s subgroups. Through RIOFA, and our workshops, he told us he has learn that if you feed the soil, the soil feeds the plants and the plants feed us. He also shared with us how important it is to share and to learn to love one another.