Since work has begun at the CYEC last week, we have been focusing our time on the shamba and its needs. The CYEC relies on the shamba to supply the kitchen with vegetables such as sakuma wiki (kale), spinach (swiss chard) , piripiri hoho (sweet pepper), zucchini, nyanya ( tomatoes), carrots, and onions. A few other crops grown in the shamba include pumpkins, snow peas, eggplant, dry beans, coriander, potatoes, cassava, and maize. These do not yet supply enough for the CYEC, therefore they still by from local markets.

Nicholas, along with four other youth from the CYEC primarily tend to the shamba under the supervision of Titus, one of the staff members.  Each of the young men is assigned one or a few crops which they tend to. They are also assisted in their tasks by younger children from the center. We have been meeting and working with Nicholas to develop budget sheets for the shamba that will help the CYEC document input and output costs. This has proven to be a bit of a challenge due to the difficulty in quantifying labor. In the US, we are used to getting paid by the hour, but many people in Kenya are paid by the amount of work completed, such as one plot of onions weeded.  This document will continue to be modified to meet the needs of the CYEC.

In addition to the budget sheets, we are helping Titus identify pest and disease problems within the shamba. After inspecting each crop and noting the symptoms of any pests or diseases present, we began researching and identifying each one. The greenhouse presents additional troubles as it is more difficult to get rid of a pest or disease once it is present.  The tomatoes planted in the greenhouse were infested with white flies and spider mites. They also have powdery mildew and an unidentified foliar disease.  The most common pest problems throughout the rest of the shamba are black and white aphids. Another main issue in the shamba is lack of water. Although the CYEC possesses a pump to bring water from the creek at the base of the hill to the large holding tank at the top, the pump often fails to operate properly. The best option would be to purchase a new pump, but the CYEC does not have the means to purchase such a pump, at 90,000 Kenya shillings (about $1,125.00).

While we are here, our main goals are to finalize the budget sheets and help them to keep better records, as well as identify and present ways to best control pests and diseases. A few other ways in which we hope to improve production in the shamba include developing a crop rotation sequence and building a compost bin.  We are excited with the potential of the shamba.

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