Connect with us

Business

PHOTOS: ‘I turned my 3 acres into a small Eden’

Published

on

Muthoni Karanja was gifted three acres of land by her father-in-law in Limuru. She turned the land into an organic vegetable farm, a petting area that houses rabbits, chickens, and pigs which provide the farm with manure, a picnic spot, and a spa. She named it La Ferme.

“I wanted to make sure that what I was putting on the table for my children and my family was organic, and that I knew where it was coming from,” she says.

La Ferme is now a sustainable, organic, a multi-purpose place that is more than just a farm.

From its neatly trimmed hedges lined with rosemary and marigolds to rows of crops sprouting with romaine lettuce, savoy cabbage, beetroots, and many more vegetables.

From a garden centre adjacent to flower beds to a petting area that houses rabbits, chickens, and pigs which provide the farm with manure. To the children’s playground complete with a swing set to the levelled out, partitioned land that is set to become a spa that will use ingredients sourced from the farm.

“I want people to come here and have an experience. I want all their five senses to be stimulated at La Ferme,” says Muthoni.

 

Muthoni Karanja

Ms Muthoni Karanja. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

To the naked eye, the farm may appear to be upscale, but for Muthoni, it is four years of labour and love.

Farm spa

When she started growing organic food for her family, the idea morphed into full-fledged farming to accommodate the requests she was getting from people interested in buying fruits and vegetables.

After bumper harvests, Muthoni asked herself “what more can I do with what I already have?”

That is where the idea to open a farm shop, farm spa, petting area, farm-to-table restaurant and intimate events ground came from. However, to do all of this, she had to start from ground zero.

“I had to do a lot of research seeing that I don’t have a background in agriculture. I read a lot. I started watching farming videos on YouTube and following farmers on different social media sites,” says Muthoni who ran an interior design company before venturing into agripreneurship.

“I knew for sure that what I needed to do first is build fertile, healthy soil.”

She was able to cultivate healthy soil through underground piping for irrigation and incorporating the compost, green manure, and animal manure into the soil.

“I’ve now started adding ash, bone-meal, and banana leaves into the compost as part of my organic amendments. We also do companion planting on the farm, which is why you’ll see rosemary hedges and marigolds around the perimeter of the crops to deter pests.”

From her petting area, her pigs give her manure that is re-purposed in the soil and the urine from the rabbits is used as fertiliser.

In addition to building healthy, fertile soil, Muthoni wanted to ensure that she was creating an ecosystem that would attract bees.

“For every third bite of food you eat, it is because a bee has pollinated it, so it was very important for us to plant flowers that attract bees. It was very important for me to cultivate an ecosystem where each part of the farm works in perfect harmony with one another.”

Beyond the farm lies a forest that borders Ngecha Road, where Muthoni is enhancing her land’s biological diversity by planting indigenous trees such as the Mukui, Mukue, and Muiri trees, which help filter the air, attract rain and can be utilised for medicinal purposes.

Initially, Muthoni says she struggled to find her footing in selling her organic produce to big-market buyers.

 

Her struggles even had her contemplating whether she should undo all the hard work she put into cultivating healthy, organic soil by pumping her land full of pesticides and fertiliser just so that she could make a living, but she says “my conscience just couldn’t allow it.”

Eventually, her market found her and these days, she even sells her produce to Beyond Fruits.

Of La Ferme’s four years in operation, Muthoni reflects on how she has been able to invest in her farm without draining her pockets.

“I honestly cannot tell you how much money I have spent on the farm because it’s been a continuous process of investing and paying employees, but one thing I can say is that I have never dipped into my savings and I have never taken out a loan to finance La Ferme,” she says.

Her farm employs three full-time workers, with day labourers who help pick up some work from time to time.

Upcoming restaurant

For the upcoming restaurant, Muthoni is working with a chef to curate a rotating, seasonal menu with fruits and vegetables directly picked and plucked from the farm.

Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, plans to accommodate a fully-staffed restaurant and guests on the farm have been brought to a halt.

But La Ferme is currently offering an alternative; an outdoor dining experience in the form of farm-to-table picnic lunches. Guests get to enjoy a bowl of warm, creamy butternut squash from this season’s harvest or a fresh, crisp plate of salad while enjoying views of weed-free raised beds.

Underscoring La Ferme’s culture of sustainability and eco-friendly practices, the picnic packages include food and beverages sourced from the farm, and others from the community nearby.

For instance, the cheese basket is from Brown’s Cheese, a nearby factory in Tigoni, the meat is from grass-fed cows and pasture-raised chicken reared in Mount Kenya slopes, and the craft beer is from 254 Brewing Company located in Kikuyu.

Muthoni also packages the food and drinks in biodegradable containers sourced from Ecstasy, an eco-friendly local company.

“Other than raising my children and having a family, I have to say that this has been the second most fulfilling thing that I have ever done,” says Muthoni as she admires the fruits of her labour.

“Putting something in the ground and watching it grow… feeding people and knowing that you’re feeding them with something wholesome is quite fulfilling,” she says.

By BD

Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Business

Optiven Foundation Spreads hope to the vulnerable Amidst Covid Pandemic

Published

on

As we gear towards alleviate poverty levels in our society, the Optiven Foundation has reached out to support
FLOMINA children’s home. Located in Nairobi’s Soweto area, the home was the recipient of assorted food stuffs including cereals, pulses and vegetable oil.

More than 65 vulnerable children some who are orphaned , abandoned or living with HIV & AIDs, got reasons to smile courtesy of Optiven Foundation.

As the eyes on the community, the Foundation’s desire is to transform & improve the livelihood of the vulnerable families in our society. This is by offering them support that includes basic food stuff. We thank all those who support the optiven vision of economically and socially empowering the communities

How to Easily Partner & Be a Philanthropist TODAY

1. Support a deserving needy person.
Mpesa Paybill: 898 630.
Account name: Donation

2. https://web.facebook.com/pg/optivenfoundation/reviews ( like our page & drop a comment) if a beneficiary, drop us a review & rate us

For more information reach us on +254 718 776 033 or info@optivenfoundation.org | www.optivenfoundation.org

Continue Reading

Business

What is happening in Amani Ridge the Place of Peace

Published

on

Amani Ridge the place of Peace is giving you an opportunity to build your home in a serene, scenic and natural environment.

It remains unparalleled facility with top notch value additions. Perimeter wall, razor wire,solar street lights, a welcoming landscaping work with a beautiful fountain and now a cabro- paved entry to 300 stunning homes to-be.

To become a part of this neighborhood, ensure that you or your friend book soonest from the 23
1/4 acre plots remaining.

Call us now:
0790300300 or 0723400500
Website: www.optiven.co.ke

Experience the difference

Continue Reading

Business

Safe rides: Introducing the all-female taxi

Published

on

Say you are a woman, it is 11pm and you need a taxi ride urgently. You may have heard horrendous stories of female passengers in a male driven taxi that makes you recoil and opt to cancel the ride, but you need it, and you are alone.

Getting in the taxi, worry knocks and you start having wild ideas of your escape plan, just in case. You check the child lock and confirm that your phone is charged, before sending a screenshot of your taxi details to a friend – if anything happens, they will have a clue of where to start.

Will it be comforting to say that you are not alone?

This comfort factor for women is in a female chauffeured taxi called An Nisa, a taxi company whose vehicles only carry women and children, limited to pre-teen male.

Fellow women

“I wanted a taxi service that would make women feel comfortable throughout their journey. Women are more maternal and women feel more comfortable being driven by fellow women,” says  Khawlah Habib, founder of An Nisa.

An Nisa, which means women in the Arabic language, is a solution to women and mothers who may have had insecurities when they use other taxi services.

Whilst the analogy of prevention being better than cure is mostly used in medicine, Ms Habib says it perfectly fits her idea of having a female passenger being driven by a woman.

“I did a lot of research and talked to a number of women who narrated their unpleasant experiences, which made me see the need of coming up with a female-only taxi,” says Ms Habib.

When it was launched in 2018, there were more than 1,000 downloads and requests to use their service within a week. Unfortunately, at the time this article was written, the app was under maintenance so all bookings are still made on call.

Affirmative nod

“Men also call me to let me know that the ladies in their lives, or children, would wish to use An Nisa as a mode of transport, and that tells you that the worry is felt by both genders,” says Ms Habib.

An Nisa today, has more than 50 female drivers that work mainly in Nairobi and Mombasa.

It is even a feel-good option for female taxi drivers. Beatrice Wambui, a 30-year-oldwho has been a taxi driver for ten years now, has an affirmative nod for the An Nisa experience.

Ms Wambui juggles between all the online taxi service providers available in Nairobi. But says: “Having an An Nisa client feels safe, because I already know it is a fellow woman coming on board.”

Although she may not be affected much when she uses the other online taxi services, the discrimination starts from the passenger.

“One time I got a client request for my ride, when I accepted the request and they found out that it was a woman behind the wheel, they cancelled, and I felt so bad,” Ms Wambui says.

Late night ride

With An Nisa, she says, the expectation and reality are usually in synchrony. So, once a client calls in, they know that it is a woman who will drive them, so they do not have any reservations because that is what they sign up for.

Ms Habib does not just employ any woman to be her driver.

“I prefer drivers who have driven for a while, say 10 years or more, not less and should comply with all NTSA (National Transport and Safety Authority) requirements.”

And for clients who may want a late night ride, or a very early ride; say to the airport, they make advanced booking so that safety precautions including the driver’s, are considered.

Curfew

“I had to apply for a curfew pass that allows me to pick and drop off clients who travel in the wee hours of the night. With the pandemic, I insist that the client wears a face mask and sits on the back seat,” adds Ms Wambui.

For safety, An Nisa has partnered with Lady Askari, a company that offers protection services to women. The services, just like An Nisa, are provided by female trained security guards.

by nation.africa

Continue Reading


poapay3

Like us on Facebook, stay informed

NEWS TRENDING RIGHT NOW

2020 Calendar

satellite-communication1.jpg

Trending

error: Content is protected !!