[permaculture] Keyhole Gardens used in Lesotho - BBC NEWS | Africa | Lesotho gardens relieve food crisis

David Glober david.glober at yahoo.com
Sun Jun 8 16:54:37 EDT 2008


Apparently it's a combination of keyhole gardening and raised beds, and they seem to use stone to raise the beds ... here's a 3-minute animation on YouTube, and a reference from Send a Cow, the organization that seems to be teaching people how to build them:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gmd5m_njWEc
http://www.sendacow.org.uk/schools.asp?active_page_id=272

David Glober ~ San Francisco

Recent Permaculture Design Cert Grad

david.glober at yahoo.com



---

--- On Tue, 6/3/08, Lawrence F. London, Jr. <lflj at intrex.net> wrote:
From: Lawrence F. London, Jr. <lflj at intrex.net>
Subject: [permaculture] Keyhole Gardens used in Lesotho - BBC NEWS | Africa | Lesotho gardens relieve food crisis
To: "permaculture" <permaculture at lists.ibiblio.org>
Date: Tuesday, June 3, 2008, 8:50 PM

Keyhole Gardens used in Lesotho - BBC NEWS | Africa | Lesotho gardens relieve
food crisis
<http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/7432972.stm>
Page last updated at 12:01 GMT, Tuesday, 3 June 2008 13:01 UK

Lesotho gardens relieve food crisis

Women harvest corn in Lesotho's central highlands

Keyhole gardens

Home-grown Lesotho innovation to fend off hunger

"Keyhole gardens" may have saved Mahaha Mphou's family from
starvation
As delegates at the UN food summit in Rome tackle concerns over food
production, the BBC's Peter Greste visits Lesotho, 
one of the countries most at risk from climate change and global food and fuel
price rises.

Woman tending her keyhole garden in Lesotho's central highlands
"Keyhole gardens" may have saved Mahaha Mphou's family from
starvation

Lesotho's vast highland plains are spectacular places for tourists. Broad
and treeless, they offer stunning views of the 
mountains looming over shimmering gold grasslands.

But they are terrible for farmers.

Decades of intensive agriculture have stripped the land of trees, and exposed
soils to wind and rain.

Erosion has created countless miniature canyons that split the plains
everywhere you look. The already thin mountain 
soils have lost virtually all their productive nutrients.

According to the Deputy Minister for Agriculture and Food Security, Efraim
Lehata, a typical farmer in Lesotho's maize 
belt would be lucky to squeeze half a tonne of grain from each acre of land.

They should be able to produce more than 14 times that.

Global forces

The minister bemoans the fact that his country, which used to do well out of
farm exports to neighbouring South Africa, 
now depends on food handouts from organisations like the World Food Programme.

He admits that a lot of the blame rests with the country itself. But with a
population of about two million, tiny 
Lesotho is barely the size of Belgium.

The forces now shaping global food prices are way beyond its control.
	
Lesotho map

Country profile: Lesotho
"The last summer season, most of our tractors couldn't go to the
fields because of the cost of diesel. Now that the 
price has doubled, we're not expecting any to be able to go," Mr
Lehata said. "It is very difficult."

In many respects, Lesotho is a microcosm of the problems facing so many parts
of the developing world.

The mountain kingdom in southern Africa sits on a plateau mostly above 1,800
metres altitude, so the growing season is 
short and its vulnerability to climate change is acute.

With the country struggling with one of the world's highest HIV prevalence
rates, many of its able-bodied workers have 
either died or been crippled by disease.

And in what is one of the poorest states in Africa, even the slightest increase
in the cost of food or commodities hits 
painfully hard.

Keyhole gardens

But Lesotho cannot wait for the UN food summit in Rome to come up with ideas,
so it has developed some of its own.

	
Family tend their keyhole garden in Lesotho's central highlands
(Mahaha's family) has three keyhole gardens and that's more than enough
to supply all 10 of them with all the vegetables 
they need, and with some left over to sell - it's changed their lives
Ntsie Tlali, Care
Mahaha Mphou does not know much about global economics, but she does know how
to grow vegetables.

She and the rest of her family of 10 have become some of the most enthusiastic
evangelists for a home-grown idea that 
has almost certainly saved them from starvation.

They are now thriving on what have become known as "keyhole gardens".
They are round gardens of about two metres in 
diameter and raised to waist-height to make them easy for the sick and elderly
to work.

Inside, the garden-beds are layered with tin cans, mulch and ash which together
provide the nutrients to make the 
gardens extraordinarily productive.

Ntsie Tlali from Care, the non-governmental organisation behind the gardens,
believes they are revolutionary.

Women tending corn in Lesotho's central highlands
Lesotho sits on a high plateau and has a short growing season

"As you can see, (Mahaha's family) has three keyhole gardens and
that's more than enough to supply all 10 of them with 
all the vegetables they need, and with some left over to sell. It's changed
their lives."

Because they are protected by the stonework, the rich soils are safe from
erosion.

They retain moisture far more effectively than land farmed by traditional
farming methods, and they are compact enough 
to turn the tiniest plot of land into productive agriculture.

'Food is life'

Mahaha says they have also transformed the family's diet: "We're
growing so many things, from beetroot to spinach, 
onions, tomatoes, carrots - everything."

Mr Lehata acknowledged that the gardens alone will not transform Lesotho,
"but we've been really surprised by just how 
well they've worked," he said.

"We expected them to disappear after half a season, but you can see that
although we have such cold winters, they are 
productive all year round. It's been really helpful to our people."

Even so, the one thing the minister wants from the Rome summit is urgent action
on the cost of basic farm supplies like 
fuel, seed and fertiliser.

"Food is life," he said. "If we can't afford that, we're
finished."


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