Meet Lucy from Botswana

“I would say I am a very down to earth human being, I love nature, love my family and like to be on the move at all times, doing things, meeting people, working in my garden, exploring the internet especially on permaculture and other organic gardening ideas. I have a farm named Kuminda Farm & Cultural Village so I combine farming and cultural education/activities as well.

My parents have always grown food, I come from a family of farmers who made sure there was always food on the table through their hard work growing food by using traditional farming methods. They were growing sorghum, Millet, beans, pumpkins, watermelons and many other vegetables. For many years during the ploughing seasons I learnt from them. They grew different types of vegetables to feed the family but also to make sure that we could get an education as well as to make sure that we didn’t go hungry. My parents’ hard work in the fields inspired me to carry on and grow my own food. Although that inspiration only took effect during the later years!

I love growing food, it’s my passion, it’s so therapeutic and to actually eat your own food from your garden is very fulfilling as well as a priceless gift. I have always loved growing food, probably because I was raised to look after myself, I was always there to help my parents in the fields. My country is landlocked and we get very dry and hot summers and it’s almost impossible to grow anything in summer as temperatures can rise very high. I tried and nothing worked, but I had also heard that people have changed some of their impossible to grow land to food forests, that’s when I learnt about permaculture. In 2019 I took a trip to Kenya to do a Permaculture Design Certificate course. I met some really amazing people and learnt a lot. I came back and continued to search the internet to learn more about permaculture. Now I have turned my sandy dry soil into an amazing nutrient full, rich soil full of organic matter and nothing stops me from growing a lot of organic food.

My farm is in a small village on the outskirts of the country’s second city, Francistown. My growing space is about 1 hectare. My family lives in the main city Gaborone and I started a small backyard garden there as well and taught them how to manage it and keep growing food.

I grow anything that I can get my hands into, depending on the weather, so in summer I grow spinach, sweet potatoes, a lot of different types of herbs, lettuce, strawberries, fennel, curry, pumpkins, tomatoes, comfrey, peppers and in winter I still stick to these but then add cabbages, garlic, onions, kale, choumollier, pok choi, garden peas and other winter herbs as well.

I manage my soil by adding organic matter to it, I have about 9 worm farms which I feed with kitchen waste and some of the vegetables I grow. Whenever I feel the need to trim or clean up I just throw them in the worm bins, I make my own compost and fertilizer, I keep small stock like chickens, goats, rabbits and my farm gets a lot of dry leaves that fall from the trees around so I collect those and use them for mulching. I use a lot of resources around me like grass, cardboard, ash, manure and more. In summer we do get a lot of pests so I tend to do companion planting, put in marigolds, calendulas, nasturtiums and herbs like basil and garlic … but it can be struggle in summer.

The heat in our part of the world is intense, you actually just watch your vegetables wilt everyday. I have protection in the form of shade netting but with this heat sometimes that doesn’t work, so we turn to watering and mulching, mulching and mulching to retain the moisture. The other hurdle is pests in summer although I grow garlic that I in turn use as my organic pesticide.

Every morning when I get up the first thing I do is go to my garden. I look at what I have achieved and just love it. Sharing with family and friends who enjoy and know the benefits of organic food has been one of the rewards. Nothing actually beats fresh and healthy food from your own garden straight to the table. Being able to just open your door to go and harvest your own food from your garden, looking at how fresh it is and knowing that you are actually responsible for the freshness is a very fulfilling experience.

I share my seeds with friends. I do demonstrations on Sustainable organic gardening and it’s been going quite well. It’s good to share hands on experiences and get people to know more about growing food.

There is nothing like growing your own food, there are a lot of health benefits and just getting in there and getting your hands dirty is quite something.”