While our core program operates in direct partnership with government health centers, our 5-acre demonstration and innovation farm is at the heart of the work that we do and is – in many ways – the foundation for our success to date. It serves as our head office and training site, as the source of many agricultural inputs, and as a ‘living laboratory’ where we can test both our seed package and the accompanying education we provide in order to ensure that we are truly setting families up for long-term success.
In 2016 we provided 5,186 chickens, 1,470 rabbits, and 3,605 fruit tree seedlings.
Our farm also offers a unique space for us to engage in agricultural research that has implications beyond our own program. For example, we are currently partnering with the Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), Bioversity International, and the Humid Tropics Project on a research initiative designed to better understand the impact of iron-fortified beans and vitamin A-rich bananas.
Our farm also provides a unique platform for us to reach and support vulnerable women from the surrounding community. Rather than hiring men as farm hands, we hire women from the surrounding community on a rotating basis. And these women receive more than employment; they are also provided with childcare and empowerment training and we welcome their entire families to participate in our daily community lunch. We hire between 30 and 50 women each week, and expect that over the course of a year our farm will provide employment, training and support to approximately 300 women.
Finally—and perhaps most significantly–our farm is the locus of our community engagement. Nowhere is this more clear than at our daily community lunch. We welcome all of our staff, farm laborers, neighbors and visitors to join us each day around our giant farm table. The meals we serve reflect both our approach to nutrition and our commitment to the belief that food can build more than health; it can build community. This year, we served an estimated 8,000 meals on our farm.