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Thursday, August 11, 2011

August 11, 2011

Greetings

Sorry for the delay in returning to my daily blog after eleven days.  I was waiting to report on the progress of the passion fruit at the widow’s orchard and some pictures to show.  Bishop Hezron and Pastor John Imala have taken some pictures and have given me some update information to pass along.

As you recall we started the orchard back earlier this summer from a piece of land that Pastor John had donated for the widow’s to use.  This orchard is to help them gain some income from the sales of passion fruit.  The fifth of an acre plot was leveled of a couple of mounds of dirt.  The ground was plowed twice and the widow’s came in and broke up the clumps of dirt into a great place to plant an orchard.  Later we put in the support posts and wire.  After which we mapped out the two meter by two meter spacing for the seedlings.  Once we mapped out the placement of the seedlings we came in dug the holes and fertilized the ground where the seedlings were to be planted.  Once it was time to plant we purchased the seedlings from Wamula International and commenced to planting one hundred sixty nine seedlings.

Orchard after the second plowing



In the early stages of starting the orchard



The widow's planting the orchard



All the seedlings planted



A passion fruit plant



I went away to Maralal for ten days and came back to a few dead plants.  We had lost about ten percent for a variety of reasons.  I believe some of it was my lack of proper communication skills (they say I talk to fast) and we did not schedule the training until after the orchard was planted.  Lesson learned.  Upon my return from Maralal Pastor Robert Wafula and his other trainer Brenda came and gave a three day seminar to the widow’s and a few of the other Pastors in the area joined in.  Robert explained what was done wrong.  He also gave the widow’s instructions on proper pruning and care of the passion fruit.  We commenced to replant the dead and replaced some of the other plants that were not planted properly.

Pastor Robert Wafula teaching the widow's about passion fruit



Giving instructions to the widow's in the field



After feeling confident that the orchard was in good hands it was time for me to return to the states and wait for the progress reports.  Hezron had written me a few times since my return three weeks ago letting me know that the little babies are doing fine.  We had purchased a few extra seedlings in case of any more dying along the way.  I told them that I want to come back to Kenya and find one hundred sixty nine passion fruit vines reaching for the sky.

As of yesterday the orchard is growing very well.  A few seedlings have since passed and have been replaced by others.  But the vast majority of them are growing like weeds.  Did I mention that in Kenya years ago passion fruit was considered a weed!  I bet you also did not know that an avocado is also considered to be a lesser fruit and not that desirable.  I guess this is why you can buy one on the side of the road for about a dime or less.  On the side of the widow’s orchard there was an avocado tree with lots of fruit on it.  When half the branches had to be cut off to allow for some sunshine to reach the passion fruit I saw on the ground what would amount to hundreds of dollars in avocado here in the states just waiting to be made into guacamole dip.  If there was such a thing as salsa or picante in Kenya those pesky avocado’s would become much more valuable.  Anyway many of the vines are about four feet off the ground working there way to the eight foot mark where we placed the support wire.  The widow’s are pruning and removing the flower buds as they grow.  We do not want them to flower until they have reached the support wire eight feet off the ground.  Each vine will reach the top of its support post and then two sucker vines will head in opposite directions for about three feet.  Once the vines are about six inches from its support post the flowers will be allowed to mature into fruit.  As the vine continues to grow the vines will start to move back down to the ground and six to seven months after planting we will have our first harvest.  The widow’s are spraying for bugs and continuing to fertilize as needed.  The widow’s also planted some Kale or Collards (Sukuma wiki) and other vegetables between the rows of passion fruit to sell along the road or take to market.  This will help with their income until the fruit starts to pay dividends in January or February of next year. 

Passion fruit reaching for the sky



Sukuma wiki (Collards or Kale)



Close up of the little darling



The widow's getting ready to do some bug maintenance



Purple passion fruit flower (Moi's Bridge orchard)



Purple passion fruit ready for harvest (Moi's Bridge orchard)



A passion fruit vine going in two different directions (Moi's Bridge orchard)


The fifth of an acre orchard was planted for less then five hundred dollars including the fence to keep out the undesirables such as goats and other grazing animals.  Chickens seem to go wherever they want.  If the income numbers that I have been told are correct this plot with proper care should produce at least $150.00 a week.  This will go a long way in helping these forty plus women in ways you can’t imagine.

Do you think chickens know what chicken tastes like?

 

As of right now Councilor Bianna has donated a third of an acre plot for the widow’s to use.  Our goal is to have this third of an acre planted by the first of October.  Once this is planted the widow’s will have almost five hundred passion fruit plants between the two orchards.  I believe that we can plant the other orchard for about five hundred dollars as well.  The total investment should be less then one thousand dollars.  The total income should be in excess of $400 weekly.  Divided among forty women this amounts to about $10 a week each.  This might not sound like a lot of money and by our standards it is not.  Please understand that these women have virtually nothing between them all.  Ten dollars a week will get them to a point slightly above the average income for the average Kenyan.  Hard to believe isn't it?

Third acre to be planted with passion fruit in October for the widow's from Councilor Bianna



In the next couple of weeks I will be laying out my next trip to Kenya.  I am looking to return sometime late September early October to continue moving this ministry forward.  I really believe that God’s grace is going to shine upon us and with the help of my friends in East Africa and support from our investors wherever they might be we will further God’s Kingdom and glorify his name.  Amen.

Stay tuned as I bring you more about our plans for this ministry.

Thank you and God bless you all

Dave