In Ireland many of us grow our own food as a hobby, a health or lifestyle choice, for environmental reasons. It’s easy to forget that it wasn’t so long ago that most communities relied on home grown food simply for survival. That is still the case in many developing countries around the world where food growing is not a choice, but a necessity.
In Uganda a remarkable group of people have benefitted from a partnership with GIY to fulfil several aims, but the most pressing goal, is to feed themselves.
Dodi community GIY group, established by Biira Margaret, is a group for marginalised, rural farmers in Uganda. They have come together to grow their own food, establish a community garden and to learn from each other. Their aim is to reduce malnutrition, especially among children, and increase food, income and health among the local people. The group also unites locals with a common goal. It is composed of 25 men, women and children. They grow a huge variety of produce, some of which we are familiar with and some much more exotic fare suited to Uganda’s climate and culture. Familiar foods grown by Dodi include tomatoes, onions, cabbages, carrots, Irish (white) potatoes, sweet potatoes, garlic, aubergines and green pepper. The local foods grown are passion fruits, jack fruits, avocados, cassava (from which tapioca is extracted), matooke (a starchy green banana), mangoes, beans, dodo (similar to plaintain), and more! They also rear pigs, poultry, goats and cows with zero grazing.
This is mostly accomplished using local, traditional methods of agriculture and rudimentary tools. That is why pooling resources has become so important. They felt it was vital to learn modern, innovative methods of agriculture so that everybody has enough to eat, and yet remain largely self-sufficient. Their desire to spread the knowledge and “wealth” from the land has encouraged them to establish a community garden for demonstration sessions, where their members and other local people will learn and then transfer the knowledge and skills to their individual gardens.
The group is well organised, meticulous and methodical in their procedures.
They have written and agreed upon a constitution or charter for the group. A steering group consisting of nine members with their own speciality has been set up including a marketing guru, technology expert and someone to handle the money. They meet monthly to discuss the group’s progress as well as to exchange views on specific topics in relation to food growing.They raise a subject about food growing and ask anyone with knowledge about it to contribute to a discussion and share their knowledge with all the other members. If a solution to a problem or a new method is suggested each member is asked to go and trial it and then a monitoring team visits each member’s home to assess the progress.
The Dodi Community GIY group are a source of endless inspiration with their ability to collaborate to overcome adversity their eagerness to learn and to teach and their desire to innovate for success.