By Epimark Lastone – Tanzanian Positive Impact Co-ordinator
In this blog post, Epimark Lastone, our Tanzanian Positive Impact Co-ordinator provides more insight into our vegetable gardens in the Northern Serengeti and Rubondo Island.
Growing human populations in East Africa have had an impact on the environment, certain areas of land which was previously open for wild animals to roam has become grazing land for herds of cattle or home to Maasai villages. It is this delicate balance between humans and wildlife that is so important to ensuring sustainability in these areas, so we ensure that equal efforts are put in place on improving the lives of local people as well as the surrounding nature within the areas we work.
In these areas, jobs are hard to come by, and finding a means to generate a sustainable income are scarce. We invested in two separate vegetable gardens, one on the remote Rubondo Island and another in the north of the Serengeti. These vegetable gardens are entirely managed by local villagers and provide our camps with organically grown, fresh produce every day. These vegetable gardens are a true testament to the local villagers in seeing the positive link between tourism and how it can have a direct benefit on their livelihoods and futures.
What was the purpose of creating our vegetable gardens?
Something we really struggle with is transporting vegetables from the markets to our camps. We saw this as an opportunity to involve the local community members and to create vegetable gardens, which in turn created employment and supplied fresh and organic fruit and vegetables to our camps. It really is a win-win situation for all involved!
How long have the Rubondo and Serengeti vegetable gardens been running for?
The Rubondo Island vegetable garden has been running for 5 years, while the Serengeti vegetable garden has been providing fresh produce to our camps for 4 years now and they both continue to be a huge success.
Rubondo Island’s vegetable garden is owned and run by a wonderful man, Josias, and his family. You can watch the story of Rubondo’s Vegetable Garden in this video:
How do we get the vegetables from the gardens to our camps?
We refer to our Serengeti Vegetable Garden as our Taste of the Serengeti, fresh vegetables are transported to our camps each and every day from this vegetable garden – it’s a big task but all worth it in the end when we see the amazing dishes our chefs create with the produce grown from our vegetable gardens. Our farmers will harvest any vegetables ready for delivery and pack them onto the delivery truck, signing off on every vegetable that has been provided. Once the veggies make it to our camps, each camp collects their produce and signs off on what they have received.
On Rubondo Island, we only have one camp which uses the vegetables that are grown there so getting them to Rubondo Island Camp is easy enough!
How did we select the vegetable gardeners who look after the crops?
The process of selecting our farmers was a well-thought out and specific plan – we wanted to ensure that whoever we chose would benefit from this venture and be able to manage and run the vegetable farms with confidence.
Our Rubondo Vegetable Garden is owned by Asilia and run by an Asilia employee, Josias.
Josias was employed from the local community of Muganza, he was the perfect candidate for this job and we saw a wonderful opportunity for him to grow and become more self-empowered through managing the garden.
Asilia purchases all of the seeds that are used in the Rubondo Island vegetable garden so any delicious veggies that are grown by Josias and his family are produced especially for Rubondo Island Camp’s guests to enjoy.
The Taste of the Serengeti was presented to the surrounding villages as an opportunity for 8 individuals to own a piece of land which they are then responsible for. These 8 community members were selected due to their hard-working attitude and their determination to succeed and build a better life for themselves as well as their families.
If these community members are not able to afford supplies, we purchase seeds, water pipes, water pumps, or anything else that the farmers would need to produce delicious, organic veggies. We support each and every one of our farmers and do all we can to help them thrive and uplift themselves as well as their families and the rest of their community.
Watch this short video about our Taste of the Serengeti vegetable garden.