Why Africa ?
Because in Africa there subsists a vital energy that we are loosing in Europe. Africains know how to live with almost nothing, they know how to make something out of each situation, they invent they like to laugh and they always believe that the future will be beautiful. Their families, clans and tribes wraps them in a warm blancket of a huge social network . The ciment of their societies is the ability to give, to receive and to share.
Why organic ?
Because organic agriculture is the basis of human life. Africa is also being submerged by chemical products. Even in far away villages agricultural cooperatifs sell fertilisers, pesticides, insecticides ...without scruple, they sell products that poison the soil. The sellers sell miracles, and africains, without further means of information, love to believe in miracles.
Because solidarity is a universal value. Solidarity between peoples who live close, but solidarity also between continents and in both directions. Western countries are proud of their individualistic way of live, but along with individualism comes isolation, competition and exclusion. We should learn from these societies where individuals live and survive through social links and not materialistic possesion.
The idea is to buy, or to start with to rent,a piece of land, if possible near Kilifi in Kenya and to build up a a small scale organic dairy farm.
Kilifi is situated on the shore of the Indian Ocean, about 50 km north of Mombasa. The climat is hot all year long and the soil is exhuberant. Most peoples earn their living by fishing , there is little production of milk, meat and vegetables.
Kenians drink a lot of milk (in their tea) and they like yogurt. Without taking too much of a risk, I think to start off with 2 cows and maybe go up to 4 later on. Besides this there is not much egg production,the meat is delivered from far away and the manure will enable me to cultivate a nice vegetable garden. Africans know little about food conservation, jams or conserves. All this to say, that there is a confortable margin for diversity and selfsufficiency.
The aim is to reach a human and economic balance by the activities of the farm.This should enable me to pay small salaries to some people, while at the same time learning from them and they from me. After some time they can leave with a calf of their own.
I think it is interesting to join a kenyan or intercontinental organic farming network.
My name is Britta and I think it is a little impolite to only introduce myself at this point. But what is more important is the project and the confidence that I hope you will entrust in me.
I only discovered nature and the life in the mountains when I was 30 years old (until then i have always been living in different cities) – this was a real revelation to me.This is why my partner (at the time) and I bought a small ruin in the Southern Alpes of France (at 1200 m altitude) and we started to produce cheese from the milk of our goats and cows. Quite soon we realized, even if it is good to work with two peoples, it is better to work with more.
So little by little, some people joined us, some left and new came. After 20 years of working on the farm, we were a stable groupe of ten persons. We called ourselves « Cooperative Cravirola », lived and still do from the money that we earn and share,without any leader. We take our decisions together and continue to apply organic agriculturel techniques.
In 2007 we moved to the Minervois in the south west of France and extended our activities. Besides cheese we are now also producing bread and transforming meat, all of it organic. But the biggest change is that we opened a camp site, where the campers can participate or propose activities. We organize concerts, political discussions and all kinds of militant actions – we are not bound to any party or religion, it is an open place (see our webside « cravirola.com)
Today, after 30 years of working on a farm and living in a community, I feel that I have experienced most of it's possibilities and impossibilities and would like to share my experience, but also learn something completely new.
In 2011 I went for the first time to Africa. In the beginning it was to see my brother who is working in Rwanda, I ventured further and further into the countryside and something happened to me that I did not expect – another revelation. I fell in love with the beautiful countries I saw, with the sun that shines in the eyes of their inhabitants. But, I also saw misery and the damage and catastrophies that white people create on this magic continent.
Since my first trip in2011 I returned twice. I have also been to Ouganda and Kenya and I made close friendships with some people, who adopted me as a member of their family. I met a groupe of women peasants who are using organic agriculturel techniques, an association of women,who are caring for orphans, a group of men, who work to keep alive the little school of their village. I was dazzled by the capacity that these peoples have to help.
I seriously think that we Westerners have a lot to learn from Africans.
This is the first reason why I go there.The second is to help out a little. Help out by sharing my experience of an experienced farmer, but also by investing in a small organic and pedagogic farm. But also, I would like to share with you, you who will stay here. I will write down my adventures, my observations and my thoughts and I will send them to you.
There is no timetable. Time in Africa flows slowly. But one thing is sure : I will leave in the beginning of november 2014.
Because this is to be a long term project, I want to buy the land but found an organic agricultural association that will have the use of it. By experience I know, that the choice of the land and administratif paperwork can take quite some time. This is why I think, depending on the opportunities, another option could be starting by renting land.
The first thing to do is to find land, suitable for the project. After this I will need to build or rent a house, I will have to find cows, maybe dig a well, and wait for the next rainy season to plant. Hard to say how long this will take, but what really is important, is to start.
Something that is propably bothering you from the very beginning, is that you will ask yourself : how can she do this, a woman on her own and on top of it she is white ? Well, I am not alone. The project is a project with the partnership of the family that adopted me in Kenya..Like in almost all of the families in Africa there are lots of uncles, aunts, cousins.. and all these people form a strong social network. I know them since two years and I have stayed with them or many weeks. This project is really a african and western cooperation on a family basis.