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.
In mid 2014, James finally joined the organic farmers market where he was even more enlightened on organic agriculture and had a new avenue to sell his produce. 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 from the income he received.
Through the organic market he has made sales, interacted with and learned 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. During that period, Sheena, PRI Director used to buy her organic produce from James every Sunday at the farmer’s market down the road from her. She spontaneously handed him her business card this one time and asked James to look up on permaculture early 2016. He started reading up and doing more research on sustainable agriculture and the exploration of permaculture began for him! Through reading and doing online research, he applied basic sustainable agriculture techniques like mulching, inter cropping and companion panting to his own garden. 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 which prompted him to finally make use of the business card and call Sheena! She hadn’t been to farmers market in months and he hoped she’d remember him!
James visited the PRI Kenya office and met with Sheena in February this year. He heard about the upcoming course in Makeuni and signed up! Sheena seemed to see potential in James and wanted him to get deeper in to permaculture. He received a partial scholarship from PRI Kenya and attended the PDC in Makeuni at the PRI partner site- Drylands Natural Resources Centre where he met more people with the same interests as him and seeing permaculture in action ignited him even more!
James is grateful for the opportunity and looks forward to really delve in to community building and permaculture work. He is now working as an external consultant for PRI Kenya to build his training skills. PRI Kenya wants to see James take on the urban development and teach more courses and help design urban plots. His desire in farming is evident and he wants to see change and reform within people and communities prosper. Our scholarship grant has reached hundreds of like minded people and farmers since 2012 and we are fortunate to have received the most recent grant from the Hodges family in the US that have allowed us to provide more scholarships this year.