Saturday, October 17, 2009

Please endorse my idea for Earth Orbs!

Remember the blog I posted about the briquettes we created from waste charcoal and corn cobs? (See blog post for April 18, 2009.) I have entered a contest sponsored by the Peace Corp Association to obtain funding to travel from village to village to train people about how to make these briquettes, which we are calling "Earth Orbs."

Our simple technique for making charcoal Earth Orbs saves trees, creates income sources for villagers and recycles "garbage" into a valuable product. Through our training we expect to model the positive effects of organizing and empowering our communities.
Would you please endorse my idea here:

If we manage to get enough votes, we will be awarded the money to carry out our project. Thanks, and please tell your friends!

Friday, October 2, 2009

Studying Sustainability and Connecting in South Africa

Thank you, friends, for the support you gave me to attend the two-week conference in South Africa. I had fun and learned a lot! The one-week workshop covered sustainable farming. We worked in the classroom and outdoors in the garden. I stayed for another week to teach farmers and students of Maharishi Institute on theory and practice.

It was a wonderful experience and I learned a lot from the trainers and the participants. I love you wonderful people! Thanks! Philip

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Seeking travel/study funding

I made friends with a professor from the Department of Sustainable Living at Maharishi University, where I hope one day to attend. Brian is organizing a five-day workshop in GrowBiointensive food production methods on 16th-20th of September. He invited me to attend this workshop in South Africa and offered to sponsor me for food and accommodations. In turn, I must provide the air ticket to South Africa, which costs approximately US $550.

If you would like to help by providing money for my trip, please contact me at:

Sending you more blessings from Kenya and from my family.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

More photos of OTEPIC's beautiful garden

The Garden as Revolution

Have you ever thought of how you can feed an ever-increasing population from a small piece of land without destroying the environment? Small farms are where agricultural advances are nurtured and new ideas conceived by people solving nature's puzzles.
When GROW BIOINTENSIVE components such as double digging, close spacing, composting, carbon farming, crop diversification, whole farming systems, and calorie farming are adopted, gardening is transformed from task to craft.
If GROW BIOINTENSIVE practices and principals are adopted, backyard and back-forty farmers can tune the existing balances of the natural system and easily grow crops that they have dreamed off. This type of agriculture is not complicated. It is a straightforward way of raising more food to feed people while feeding the soil. Difficulty only arises when you misunderstand how its magic works.
Lucky the OTEPIC Organization has adopted these amazing technologies. Lucky for me, I have learned from a number of excellent teachers over the years. I owe a debt to all of them for the knowledge I gained. Their intention to teach and help was turned into the real action. I have become a revolution artist who grows irresistible food so that our world will be whole and powerful again. See the photos of the OTEPIC garden.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Training and Enabling Villagers about Animal Rights

On Monday OTEPIC members and their friends organized a free vaccination for sheep and goats and other domestic animals. We vaccinated many animals from morning until noon. It was a great adventure.

OTEPIC believes that animals are an intrinsic part of the environment. As such, they have rights that must be respected. Animals have the right to

• live in a clean and safe environment
• express normal behavior and
• be protected from pest and diseases

OTEPIC is training farmers about animal rights. In our village, it is not uncommon for people to mistreat animals. For example, donkeys are not fitted with proper equipment for work and sustain injuries to their bodies. Commonly used methods of handling and transporting animals result in injuries to the animals, and animals are slaughtered in inhumane ways.

OTEPIC's position is that plants and animals can be combined to form an inner harmony, a symbiosis from which productivity will arise naturally while inputs are reduced. In this system ecology and economics eventually meet. Farms can become self sustaining when the manure necessary for sufficient plant growth comes from the farm and when its animals are fed exclusively from the farm's own crop production.

Animals are cool! Keep animals with dignity.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Growing plants from collected seeds

OTEPIC members are now propagating seeds in the nursery. From these plants, we will grow our gardens. The plants are healthy and growing well.

We had a "work party" and managed to build a big pile of compost today. We really enjoyed it. I wish you blessings in all of your undertakings.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Visitors from the USA Help Us Grow our Community Garden

We were recently visited by a group of students from University of Wyoming who helped in our gardens. Professor Rick Smith helped organize the visit. Students and local residents worked together planting black nightshade and other plants in our garden. We collected material to make more compost and built a new compost pile. We enjoyed our visitors and appreciate their assistance!

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Communities Make Liquid Manure in Kenya's Northern Rift Valley to Avoid Using Synthetic Fertilizer

Most of our crops are doing well. But for those few that are not doing well because they were planted with less compost, we are applying Liquid Manure. So far we have trained many farmers on how to make Liquid Manure by using the Tithonium diversifolia (false sunflower) shrub and how to apply it to their crops.

Even farmers who used to buy expensive and chemical-laden synthetic fertilizer (C.A.N) for top dressing are now using Liquid Manure. It is purely organic and contains a lot of nitrogen and phosphorous nutrients and is better than synthetic for the growth of the plants.

To make Liquid Manure from Tithonium diversifolia, chop it into pieces and soak it a container of water in the shade for 7-14 days. Then mix it thoroughly and filter it through a sieve made with a gunny bag. The resulting Liquid Manure is then applied to the plants. It is full of nutrients that enrich and encourage plant growth.

Some people think the Tithonium plant is a weed but to us, it is very useful. If it is a weed, long live weeds!!!!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Weeding and Harvesting Song: Our Garden Grows

Simple Rules

Super felicitous birds, appreciative flowers,
Thick green leaves where sunlight can't reach,
Green vegetation of all comfort,
Where birds of the same feather flock together.

Every morning the queen of the garden,
Every morning the prince of the garden,
Command weeds to be wild flowers, hence no burden,
Because they are the pullers of the weeds and the planters of the seeds.

Think smart, Work smart,
Be determined, Avoid compaction violation,
Use biointensive agriculture components,
And your diet will contain all its riches.

Better to be a BIOINTENSIVE farmer,
Better to be and to train other farmers,
Digging done so well, kind of a dance,
Model so simple anyone can do it.

Friday, May 8, 2009

OTEPIC Visits the Street Children of Kitale, Kenya

Many bite the food, more than their mouth full.

Having refreshments and a good time with the street children.

Alice Nasambu with her three children. They are now living in the street.

Kitale's street children live in abandoned buildings, cardboard boxes, parks or on the street itself. They often are characters who pursue interesting and adventurous lives. They range in age from 5 to 17 years old and are deprived of family care and protection.

Twelve-year-old Alfred Yego works in the streets because his earnings are needed by his family to survive. Alice Nasambu is in the street with her three children because her husband died of HIV/AIDs 3 years ago.

OTEPIC aims to help the street children as it is an important and God-pleasing matter. On a recent visit we shared food and drinks and encouraged them to avoid abuse of drugs and other immoral activities. The children we met said they ended up on the streets because they had no choice. They were abandoned or orphaned, and some were thrown out of their homes. Some chose to live in the streets because of mistreatment or neglect or because their homes do not or cannot provide them with basic necessities.

Alice Nasambu asked OTEPIC to support her little children with food and education. We hope to involve them in our garden so that together we can grow food and share it. At OTEPIC we are trying to sustain ourselves in this way: “If we concentrate on giving, receiving will take care of itself.”

Saturday, April 18, 2009

One man's rubbish is another man's goldmine: Making charcoal briquettes and saving trees in the Rift Valley

The Rift Valley produces 2400 tons of waste every day. This waste is choking rural and urban centers, and most of it is discarded at undesignated dumpsites which include rivers and roadsides, among other areas.
OTEPIC has devised a "magic dome" that transforms useless waste into a new object of function and art. Like compost, this is another way in which we apply technique to reap benefits from waste.
OTEPIC-trained men and women collect soot remains from charcoal cooking fires, carrying the stuff on their backs. These "useless" black dust charcoal fragments remain after people have used or sold their charcoal.
Then the collectors mold the fragments into balls of 250 grams each (about 1/2 pound) with corn cobs at the core of each black orb. The balls are left in the sun for few days to dry. The corn cob improves combustion of the mold which is used as a charcoal briquette. This practice encourages recycling, creates a use for solid waste and reduces deforestation.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

OTEPIC guides Kenyan community in growing its gardens organically and using compost instead of synthetic fertilizer

OTEPIC and community members applied compost to the garden beds. Because our rain patterns are so unpredictable, we are waiting for rain before we put seed in the ground.
Our nursery seedlings are doing very well, and so far we have used only botanical extracts to control pests and diseases. Most of our local farmers want to know about varieties of good, "short season" seeds because we have food shortages in our country, Kenya.
Many local farmers are eager to learn how to make compost because they don’t want to depend again on synthetic fertilizer, which is expensive and harmful to our environment.

Guest posting by Eric Ambani, OTEPIC Chairman

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Nurturing food and eating in an organic way has health benefits

The sages say that there are scents from childhood so strongly rooted in your soul that decades later a whiff of that aroma immediately takes you back ….. For me the most profound and provocative scent is that of "boiled food." In my internship at Ecology Action in California, we decided to cook our meals entirely without oils and sugars. We sprinkled seeds like sunflowers and groundnuts on vegetables and other dishes. This provided the variety to enjoy our simple grain fare.

There were no complaints--everyone enjoyed the wonderfully appealing lightness of food prepared this way. It seemed a magical, yet disciplined experience for me because, before I went there, I felt that sugar and oil were "must have" ingredients to make food palatable.

This experience taught me that you can prepare food without oil with a minimum of fuss and great taste. With soup it's even easier. Cooking doesn’t require a lot of fancy additives like oil and sugar. It only requires simple, appetizing ingredients.

The culinary customs of our great grandparents omitted unnecessary oil and sugar. This type of cooking prevents diseases like arteriosclerosis, heart attack, and stroke which are precipitated by high fat in blood. Planning ahead to a future of robust good health for young and old people, we have to return to this type of cooking. For example, a product such as margarine contains polyunsaturated vegetable oil made from a hydrogenation process which creates an immune-damaging synthetic fat that elevates blood cholesterol.

Sugars can be used in small amounts for “flavor” but in large amounts, lead to obesity, hypoglycemia, tooth decay, loose bones, male impotence, weakened mind, loss of memory and laziness. The sweetness of food doesn’t depend on the amount of oil or sugar you add; it depends on the way you nurture the food. Nurturing is the process by which all things develop, and food can become a force for healing and harmony.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Fencing land for our demonstration gardens in Mitume Village, Kitale in Rift Valley Province

Here we are fencing the land we bought to establish our demonstration gardens to practice and teach sustainable, biointensive farming. By carefully tending our soil, planting intensively and rotating crops, I believe that we can grow a balanced diet on a small plot of land. By sharing the methods I have learned with local farmers, our community can become self-sustaining.

I trust that buying the land, which represented a great leap of faith, will be rewarded. Blessed are the growers and sowers willing to thrive in the torrent of the times. We embrace with gratitude the serene ferocity of this journey, witnessing abundance explode out of the emerging world.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Kenyan farmers leverage their bargaining position through solar drying of fruits and vegetables

Last week OTEPIC trained farming group leaders how to dry fruit and vegetables using a solar dryer. Because they cannot store or preserve their surplus products, farmers often sell at very low prices during the harvest season. By using solar dryers, they will be able to preserve their food for future use, hence, enhancing food security and offering the potential to sell it later at higher prices.

I demonstrated how to dry bananas and how to prepare vegetables for drying. We dried carrots, pumpkin, tomatoes, pineapple, vegetables and mangos.

Once the food was prepared, we put it into the solar dryer.

And then, we demonstrated how to prepare pumpkin fritters.

The participants represented farmers from far and wide. After these farm group leaders evaluated the training, we celebrated with a photo. I am in front, third from left.