As many of you know, Natural Calm Canada was founded on a commitment to changing lives in the world’s poorest communities. Dale and I spend about half the year in Kitale, Kenya, running the Organics 4 Orphans (O4O) training centre. With each visit, we work to build program sustainability, so that in time the programs will be entirely run by our local team.
By choosing our products, you’re making all of this possible. Whether you buy our brands purely based on quality, or because you consciously want to make a difference in the world, you are contributing to some truly amazing change. Let me share with you the latest.
From January to February we ran the latest 30-day Growing Health school. It’s an intensive curriculum on our four-pronged approach to community health: organic gardening, natural medicine, nutrition and income generation.
This year, our 30-strong group of students hailed from Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, Congo, the USA, Sudan and Canada. To be clear, while orphans are at the heart of everything we do, the students are adults. They come to the school to become ambassadors to their communities; they pass on what they’ve learned to their villages, orphanages, schools and other not-for-profits. The students are our seeds of change.
Four of the students this winter came from a very rural, very poor part of north west Kenya. The Turkana tribe are traditionally pastoralists: they keep cattle, goats, sheep and other milk-producing livestock. These nomadic peoples inhabit a very arid region and live almost exclusively on the products of their herds. For most Turkana families fresh produce from markets is out of reach, financially and practically. If we can establish gardens in the Turkana region, we can relieve widespread and significant nutritional deficiencies, reduce disease and child mortality.
Winter is the dry season in Kenya and we were still able to produce about 60% of our food from the gardens. It has been such a great opportunity to demonstrate the possibilities for ‘dry farming’, a method for growing even when the rains fail. When you understand how to orchestrate a garden so that all of the pieces work together in harmony – the plants, the soil, the organisms – the whole is remarkably resilient. No chemical interventions or wasteful irrigation required.
We also teach the students how to preserve the bounty of the rainy season, with classic techniques like fermentation – pictured here – and dehydration. The beauty of fermentation is, of course, that the process cultivates friendly bacteria, which are so incredibly helpful for building immunity. Dehydrating herbs and leafy greens and grinding them into powders makes it possible to add superfood nutrition to any number of foods. Powdered greens make a huge difference for infants and children.
These are lessons that students can’t fully learn from a book or a video. The Growing Health course is effective because so much of it is hands-on and interactive.
And by attending our intensive school with students from across regions, they build a network of support. As they go out into the field to teach and apply what they’ve learned, they keep in touch, learn from and inspire each other.