Today I am concentrating on food, the food I shared with generous hosts and some of the food that is grown in the areas I visited. Every meal included fruit: bananas, pineapple, water melon and avocado often just picked from the tree.
|Working in the rice fields|
Potato is often made into mukimo or irio. The mashed potato is mixed with whole maize kernels and either peas (irio) or green leaves (mukimo) and is served with a stew of meat or vegetables. Stewed meat might be beef, chicken or goat and fried fish is also popular.
Chapatis are also served as an accompaniment to meat or fish and they are thicker and more moist than those served in Indian restaurants here.
Tea is normally made with a lot of hot milk and sugar and is known as chai, coffee is also commonly drunk as are a variety of fizzy cold drinks such as Fanta and Coca Cola.
In rural areas it is often the mother who is expected to grow food to feed the family and this can be difficult, especially if she has little land. It is very important for people to learn good techniques in food production and this has been recognised by the Methodist Church in the Kaaga Circuit near Meru. Kaaga was the place where the first Methodist missionaries to the area had their home and the houses they lived in can still be seen and are in use, some of them provide accomodation for women and men who come to be trained at the Bio-intensive Agricultural training centre.
Here the women are taught methods of growing food which do not require a lot of land. In this picture arrowrot is being grown in a sisal bag. Organic methods of fertilising the crops and of pest control are taught.
The centre also teaches people how to care for livestock on a zero grazing basis. The cows, pigs or goats are kept in pens that are carefully designed to enable the animal to be healthy and contented where grazing is not available.
This is a photograph of Olive, the manager of the centre, with the hatchery in its very early stage of development.
Tea and coffee are grown extensively in Kenya and some of the tea plantations north of Meru work with a local fair-trade registered factory.