James Kamau started farming for business back in 2013 as a way to make some extra money, this was after being out of university for lack of funds and failing in a previous business. Spending some time in a small community group with some friends, contributing to buy trees and planting them at different locations is what got me into farming and conservation. As he started, it was small scale and challenging at first because he had very basic knowledge, no reliable water supply and not many customers to sell to. Either way James went ahead and started with a small plot at home, about 1/8th of an acre, on which he planted a few vegetables. Managing them with mulch to retain water and using only organic manure, James was soon selling fresh green vegetables around the neighborhood. As word spread around, he started doing weekly home deliveries and even raised enough money to start a small brood of indigenous free range chicken.
It was at this point that he started reading up and doing research on sustainable agriculture, it was also during this time that he got introduced to permacuture and also began to explore the idea. Through reading and online research, he applied basic sustainable agriculture techniques like mulching, inter cropping and companion panting to his garden. He had a small space, less than adequate water supply and limited funds. However the garden was able to sustain an overgrowing daily demand for vegetable deliveries as he now had frequent customers. James decided to sell off all the chickens he had and sow more varieties of vegetables. By mid 2014, he joined the organic farmers market where he was even more enlightened on organic agriculture and had a new avenue to sell his produce.
Through the organic market he has made sales, interacted with and learn’t from other more experienced farmers and done invaluable networking with people interested in sustainable lifestyles. After joining the organic market, they became friends with one farmer in particular and he would frequently visit his farm regularly to know more about the groundwork in organic agriculture and the vegetable business in general. He now had a stall at the organic market and his own home delivery customers. It was through this selling vegetables at different locations, that by the beginning of 2016 he started meeting people who wanted to pay to be provided with advice and guidance on their gardens or farms and got into consulting by doing short-term contracts. This prompted James to go back to school and start working more as a consultant. He has since then been striving to gain more knowledge and experience in permaculture to be able to set up his own permaculture consultancy.
James visited us at PRI Kenya office as he had met the National Coordinator, Sheena several times at the organic farmer’s market in the past and heard more about PRI Kenya through her. Their work stimulated James to find out more and finally meet them at their office in Nairobi in February this year. Upon visiting them, James was interested to finally take a PDC course with them in Makueni. He has received a partial scholarship from PRI Kenya and is looking forward to taking their course and collaborate more with PRI Kenya in the future. He is grateful for the opportunity to take the PDC and really delve in to community building and permaculture work at the PRI partner site- Drylands Natural Resources Centre this March.