Life in Kenya

Spring has arrived in the Slums of Nairobi

Africa Kenya Nairobi Mukuru slum spring sprouts

In case you missed it through the low cloud in Nairobi today, or because of the solar eclipse shrouding us in momentary darkness, spring has arrived.

Spring has Sprung!

There is no better place to find proof of that, than in the beautiful shamba (farm) in the middle of Mukuru, Nairobi. This is my favourite place. There are chickens and geese, rabbits and fish, vegetables and herbs – and look at these flowers!

Africa Kenya Nairobi Mukuru slum marigold

Marigolds are used for ornamentation, as a natural insecticide and to create natural pesticides.

How the bloom began

Musa Juma, a resident of Mukuru and a man of magic hands, designed and carefully crafted this farm. His use of recycled and scrap materials to create a little garden oasis is incredible. Pallets, tyres, hessian sacks and old plastic containers are used so nothing goes to waste.

Africa Kenya Nairobi Mukuru slum hanging garden

It is amazing what can be achieved with some old plastic containers. Soon to be on display at the Nairobi Agricultural Show – at the request of the Minister of Agriculture!

Musa and his offsider, Edwin, spend hours every day carefully tending their plot. The “Young Farmers”, a group of children from Ruben Centre Primary School, also help out once school is finished. The children are able to learn valuable skills to hopefully help them grow their own food one day.

Africa Kenya Nairobi Mukuru slum gardener

Edwin wouldn’t smile, but at least he let me interrupt him to take this photo.

Everything is used and has its use

The animals of the shamba are kept in a tier with chickens on top and fish underneath. The fish are fed with chicken waste whilst the rabbits, whose upcycled hutches support vegetables, are fed from the garden. Their waste goes back to fertilize the spring blooms creating a beautiful little cycle where nothing is thrown away.

Africa Kenya Nairobi Mukuru slum chickens

All part of the circle of life in Mukuru.

Musa and Edwin also make their own fertilizer and pesticides. They rounding up beautiful earth from nearby, mix it with manure gleaned from the pens of local goats and throw in a dash of hay. Add in a completely natural, homemade pesticide of chili, marigold, garlic and onion mixed with water and basalt and there is nothing to stop the spring time harvest.

Africa Kenya Nairobi Mukuru slum staircase rabbit hutch

A staircase of vegetables and flowers – a must have for every space saving gardener and a great accompaniment to rabbit hutches.

Food for all

The wonderous women in the kitchen whip up a lunch time feast for the staff each day using the herbs and vegetables. On occassion, a rabbit or a few fish are killed and those that have a few shillings spare can treat themselves to an impressive lunch. If you know the right people, getting your hands on a chili come lunch time can really spice up that bosho (bean dish).

Africa Kenya Nairobi Mukuru slum gardener

Musa, the man without whom the garden would cease to exist.

A garden of hope

The importance of this farm cannot be underestimated. The people of Mukuru have no gardens or space to grow vegetables and often any animals are fed on rubbish from the local dumping point. This farm gives children the chance to learn how they can be self-sustaining. It gives them the opportunity to smile as they interact and nurture living things (it definitely allows me that chance). It also gives them a chance to see life.

I think it gives them hope.


If you like hearing about my life in Kenya, then please check out this story on what Mukuru slum is really like.