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Farm Notes from August

Within our Tinderet farm, known as place of lightening for its frequent violent storms, we have been furthering our sustainability by preventing soil erosion through the targeted planting of native trees along key water catchment and flow areas.

These trees bind the soil together and reduce soil erosion, as well as regulating the flow of water preventing flash floods and ensuring a regular flow of moisture, helping to reduce the effects of drought conditions such as those experienced earlier this year. Particular care was taken in choosing just the species to plant, with preference for local species that are resilient and can thrive in the individual climate and environment of this region.

Soil quality is as important to the environment as it is to the farmers. With shifting weather patterns, particularly in areas of tea growing, top soils are more likely to be eroded leaving weak unstable land and degraded nutrients within the soil. However by acts such as planting trees for stability, manual weeding to reduce chemical use and traditional farming methods we can maintain fertile soil. With the issues surrounding soil conservation and protecting soil quality for future farming in Kenya this is key to us as sustainable farmers in maintaining the land and its fertility for generations to come.

Following the severe drought of the early part of 2017 we have begun planting more windbreaks on the farms, to slow the drying effect of winds and reduce transpiration, as well as prevent soils being blow away.

We have particularly focused on Kapchorua, whose high ridgelines regularly experience more extreme winds and transpiration as a result. Tea trees and Grivellia trees have been planted in lines across the tea fields distrupting the winds that sweep down the contours. Our farmers actively maintain these trees, to prevent the trees from being snarled within plants and stunting their growth, further encouraging our wind breaks to flourish and protect our delicate tea leaves.

Despite the recently improved weather resulting in good tea leaf harvests at Kaimosi, our forest farm, the persisted patchy power supply during the last month has made for difficult production and we are actively investigating a solar photovoltaic system, replicating the successful system at Changoi, that currently powers the factory entirely on solar power during the day, as the largest solar field in East Africa to date. We hope removing ourselves fro the fluctuations of the national grid will make for better tea!