Hello Grow Appalachia family,

My name is Nathaniel Fish and I am the Curriculum Coordinator for Grow Appalachia. I currently live in Nakuru, Kenya and I am the Vice-president of the Berea College Rotaract Club. I would like to tell you about a project that I helped develop and hold on February 27th, 2021. There are many similarities between agricultural development across the world and I believe that it might provide the Grow Appalachia family interesting insight into global agricultural work.

On February 27th, 2021 the Berea College Rotaract Club, H.E.L.P. Farmers, and the Fountain Springs Foundation held the ‘Adopt a Tree’ project at the Ndere Primary School in Siaya, Kenya. This event was made possible with a generous donation from the Rotary Club of Niles Ohio. Held at her childhood primary school, the ‘Adopt a Tree’ project was the brainchild of Ms. Anne Otieno, a Berea College alumna. Over 200 students in grades 4-8 from the Ndere Primary school, 7 facilitators from across Kenya, and 13 volunteers from the local high school participated in the program.

The event consisted of a morning session of environmental education about climate change, the importance of planting trees, and value addition in a rural agricultural setting. For the students, the most important part of the talk was discussing the way additional agricultural opportunities can build a community, especially if they are used to their utmost potential. I gave the talk specifically about grevillea trees and fruit trees.

We decided upon Grevillea because it does not destroy agricultural land and it is good for rainfall. For a rural village, trees provide shade, barriers against erosion, long-term investment into the community, a future promise of wood, and more. We also chose mango trees and avocado trees. Both fruits are very nutritious and are known to grow well in the Saiya area. Students can increase family nutrition, save their family money, and process the fruit to develop other commodities. The second half of the talk was about value addition and ways to promote agricultural business in a rural community. A lot of what I talked about I have learned from my work at Grow Appalachia. I talked about ways farmers can add value to their products, differentiate their crops, and the importance of making sure that their family has diversified streams of income. All of these are very relevant to Grow Appalachia’s work trying to both improve the nutrition of the areas we work in and offer families a way to make some extra money.

After the presentation, the students learned how to plant trees, planting 200 grevillea trees to form a living fence around the school property. The students then went back to their villages and communities and each planted one mango tree, one avocado tree, and three more grevilleas at their homes. The students planted a grand total of 200 mango trees, 200 avocado trees, and 800 grevilleas within the Ndere community.

After planting the trees, the students came back to the school for lunch. The facilitators then held a reproductive health, family planning, and life advice workshop distributing 250 sanitary towels, 150 girls’ panties, and 200 boys’ underwear. The students were divided into small groups based on age and gender and given information on contraception, how to use sanitary towels, basic reproductive education, and life advice about finishing school and continuing education. While this may not seem as relevant to Grow Appalachia and Agriculture, helping women prioritize their community’s growth and wellbeing is an essential part of creating sustainable systems of economic growth.

The program ended with a small vote of thanks held by the local school and county administration. The Rotaract Club of Berea College is grateful for the donation from the Rotary Club of Niles Ohio and for the opportunity to benefit the community in Siaya.

Thank you for reading through and I am thankful for the opportunity to share the experience of a Grow Appalachia team member who is far away from home. Please look through this photo album if you would like to see any additional pictures. https://photos.app.goo.gl/BJxWLVbPsbenC6768