Reagan Okoth received two full scholarships from PRI Kenya and has taken two courses in Laikipia and Makueni and is now a certified permie! Reagan originally comes from Asumbi which is a neighboring village to Rongo, where our partner – Coffee Project stands. Growing up with coffee himself in Asumbi region where some of the best coffee is cultivated due to excellent climate, has now seen a decline in coffee farming and sustainable practices. Reagan has now expressed interest in working together with our partners in Rongo to establish permaculture model sites and resilient ecosystems – and of course cultivating coffee in an integrated system within the permaculture model. Seeing coffee grown in this polyculture is surely evident to the quality of the cherry and farmers are starting to use the shade grown and permaculture principles to enhance the quality of coffee farming. Reagan plays a dynamic roll, bringing in his background in research and M&E which has lacked in the previous years and is now needed to document the approach in Rongo, starting with the soils, yield, capacity, volume and seasonal patters (harvest zones). PRI Kenya is grateful for the scholarship grant reaching out to so many people and farmers wanting to dive in to permaculture. We are especially grateful to the Hodges family and PRI USA for their generous contribution that has gone toward our scholarship fund to support folks such as Reagan and others who have benefited greatly.
Read more from Reagan below.
Creating a sustainable lifestyle takes a lifelong pledge – to learning, experimenting, exploring, committing to increasingly sustainable practices and, above all, loving what you do. Sadly, in this day and age beyond all of the frightening news; beyond the frustrating politics; beyond the failed international agreements, there is one question – how do you want to live your life? This is what sparked it for me. Knowing that I want to play a major role in climate change mitigation and the desire to know where my food comes from has always been a real motivation for me to do things outside the box. I have embarked on a long road seeking what life concept matched my desires. It is in this search that it quickly becomes clear that choosing a life of love requires us to change just about every aspect of our lives – to change how we spend our days. It involves shifting our lifestyle away from consumption and toward more sustainable activities such as holistically embracing permaculture practices.
PRI-Kenya has had a role to play in this journey. Through the two scholarships they awarded me, I have been able to improve my skills and expand my knowledge on Organic Composting Certificate Course in Laikipia and Permaculture Design Course in Makueni. I particularly want to point out that the PDC course was a life changing experience! The course was tailored in a way that I felt it resonated powerfully. It filled me with a new energy to take up the world! I am a Marine Resource Manager but after my time at Makueni all I want is to get out there to teach, design and work closely with like-minded people to form an alternative nation and feed the world with safe food!
I am humbled to see the numbers of people and interest rising each year in Permaculture and see this as a framework that is bringing communities and people together to find solutions. Permaculture is reinforcing cultures and communities to dive in to sustainable practices. I have had the opportunity to visit the Rongo Coffee Farmers, partners of PRI Kenya and can see huge potential for the expansion of farmers both in Rongo and Asumbi growing exponentially if we can really get the simple permaculture tool at its core out there. Caleb Omolo’s food forest was one that really strikes as you walk through his property – he is a real changemaker for the community to adapt to with his hands on approach tackling food security and sustainanility. He has been working together with the Rongo Coffee Farmers to come out of the conventional mono systems and really work more toward a broad spectrum approach which he often talks about. His passion and energy itself is evident to the purpose of a long term design re-enforcement toward the movement. I am looking forward to getting my hands dirty with the Rongo Farmers and providing enough data and proper documentation.
I also had the opportunity to attend PRI’s Annual General Meeting in April this year and got to meet all the staff, members and partners and saw the passion and drive through each person which has ignited an even stronger spark to want to be part of the Permaculture community. What I learned from that meeting is, no matter the setbacks and challenges, a collective unit who stay passionate and persevere through are really a force to be reckoned with and these are YOUR people! I am looking forward to working with PRI Kenya and the Rongo Project soon!