Our 5-acre Demonstration and Innovation Farm is at the heart of our work. It is our head office and training site, the source of many of the inputs we provide to families in our program, a “living laboratory,” where we are able to test both our seed package and the accompanying education we provide, and it is the locus of our community engagement.
As we continue to refine our model, our farm serves as a living laboratory where our agricultural team is able to test new approaches and trial new crop varieties with the goal of providing the best possible combination of seeds, seedlings, and education to participants in our Health Center Program. The results from these trials inform our training program material and ultimately affect how successful our partner families may be in establishing and reaping the benefits from their own kitchen gardens.
We have also used the results of trials on our farm to inform the Ministry of Agriculture’s National Kitchen Garden Guidelines that have been distributed to over 14,000 farmer promoters across the country.
Examples of recent trials include soil fertility research, the effects of various soil amendments on crop productivity, and research on permagarden and dry season agriculture techniques.
Each day we host a Early Childhood Development Program for children of mothers who work on the farm as casual laborers as well as vulnerable members of the local community who have been identified as needing extra support
As part of the program they recieve SOSOMA (a fortified porridge blend), a nutritious lunch, and social and cognitive support.
The ECD program is a natural extension of GHI’s efforts to provide holistic and integrated support to the families of children with malnutrition by ensuring the healthy physical, mental, and social development of children.
“Since the mission of GHI is to eliminate malnutrition… being with kids in the daycare like this…we give them food and care for them, and they show some kind of change, maybe after two months. This shows that GHI’s program is working.” – Celette Uwineza, ECD Teacher
Employment and Empowerment
Our farm also provides a unique platform for us to reach and support vulnerable women from our community. We hire women from the surrounding area on a rotating basis each week. In addition to the employment opportunities they receive, we also provide childcare as part of our Early Childhood Development program, empowerment training, and welcome their entire families to participate in our daily community lunch.
Our farm also serves as the source of many of the inputs we provide to families as part of our Home Garden Package. Our Home Garden Package is an essential element of our model, providing partner families with the nutritious seeds and seedlings they need to establish their own kitchen gardens, increasing the accessibility of nutritious fruits and vegetables for vulnerable families and communities. We grow many of the seeds and seedlings we distribute to families right here on our farm to ensure quality and offset program costs.
Nowhere is our commitment to community engagement clearer than at our daily community lunch. Each day we welcome our staff, farm laborers, neighbors, ECD participants, and visitors to join us around our farm table to share a delicious farm-fresh meal. The meals we serve reflect both our approach to nutrition and dietary-diversity and our commitment to the belief that food can build more than health - it can build community.