Check out how the Daraja Farm has grown over the past 4 years into an organic farm that sustains campus.
With each new class of Daraja girls as well as more volunteers and staff, come more meals to make. Instead of buying most vegetables and fruit, Daraja produces much of the food that is consumed. Over the past four years, the Daraja Farm has grown from a small carrot patch to over an acre of more than 14 plants that provide for campus. Want to know the details about the farm? Keep reading below!
Daraja Farm in 2009
Each week, hundreds of pounds of vegetables are harvested for the kitchen that serves up to 180 people each meal. For example, 100% of all kale and spinach consumed at Daraja comes from the farm and averages to about 185 pounds each week. Zucchini can produce 90 pounds every two days during harvest. When tomatoes are ripe after six months of growing, around 155 pounds can be harvested each week. These are the main ingredients in food at Daraja, but also produced on the farm are mangos, papaya, sunflower, squash, pumpkins, sweet potatoes, hot peppers, and spices.
Daraja Farm in 2012
What goes into producing so much food? It has taken much hard work and planning to have such a successful farm. The climate at Daraja has made it easier to produce a wide variety of vegetables. It rains much of the year and provides enough water for the plants and in the dry season, a drip irrigation system supplements for the lack of water. Drip irrigation is a very sustainable and water-conscious system to water plants where pipes run the length of the crop and only water directly at the root of the plant. In some areas of the farm, double dug beds are created to produce more food at a faster rate. This system involves digging the top layer and mixing it with manure and compost, which is also created in the farm. That mixture is then mixed with the second, nutrient-rich layer to create a super rich top soil. Some plants require shade beds as the sun in the equatorial region is very strong and can kill plants such as tomatoes. However, in the past few months, heat has not be the killer of plants, but rather cold and ice. In July, two hail storms killed the onions as well as tomatoes and cabbage. The last method of growing is using green manure, which is the mixture of a cover crop (non-producing plants) and manure to create extra-fertile soil. This has proven very successful with potatoes as 3.5 sacks can be harvested at a time.
1 of 3 shade beds in the farm
Maintaining an organic farm is difficult and requires the dedication of three full-time farm workers as well as fifteen Daraja students who spend around an hour each day in the farm helping harvest, weed, or plant. The organic model has proven extremely successful and provided three times as much produce as inorganic (using pesticides). The goal of the Daraja Farm is to produce all the food required to feed campus.
Form 3 and 4s return to campus, Volunteers work with campus kids, Students compete in school-wide photo scavenger hunt
Gideon, Winnie, Pamela, and Joy in art class
Form 3 and 4s return to campus
On Tuesday, the Form 3 and 4s reported back to the Daraja campus for a two week intensive called Tuition Studies. The classes are to help the girls prepare for the K.C.S.E. test the Form 4s will take this November and Form 3s next year. There are three, two-hour long classes each day with fun activities and symposiums at night. Tuition studies allow the students to ask questions on all the topics they have learned since Form 1 without compromising their normal schoolwork.
Volunteers teach art and games to Daraja kids
Hannah, Jill, and the Daraja Kids
Although some Daraja students are back in school, most students across Kenya are home for a month break. This includes the fifteen children of Daraja teachers and staff who are back on campus for their break. Volunteers Hannah and Jill, who are working on the Transition Program, taught art and games to the kids. Jill, who works in the education sector in Colorado, taught the children how to draw different animals and their names. Even Mr. Doherty joined in on the fun. After, Hannah taught the kids how to play duck, duck, goose. The kids now play the game everyday! It was a great way to have fun and teach other members of the Daraja community.
Students compete in school-wide scavenger hunt
The Winning Team of Lilian, Marylene, Lisayo, Betty, Jamacia, and Florence
While the Form 3 and 4s are in class most of the day, the afternoon and evening is left for fun activities. The first day back the girls competed in a photo scavenger hunt. The girls were split into eight teams and were given a list of pictures to take around campus. They included taking a picture of the elusive dik-dik, dancing with staff, jumping, climbing trees, making pyramids, and many more. The teams were composed of two or three families – Form 4 older sister, and Form 3 younger sister. After an hour of intense running around campus, the girls finished their hunt. It was a great way for the girls to use creative thinking, teamwork, and enjoy time outside after being in the classroom all day. Check out more photos the girls took here.
Carr Educational Foundation is growing rapidly and the staff needs another person to join the team. The organization is looking for an intern to assist the development and marketing staff in executing and creating successful campaigns that help raise awareness and funding for Daraja Academy. Interns will get an opportunity to gain nonprofit experience, meet influential players in the nonprofit world and learn directly from our development director who has 10+years of fundraising experience. This position requires 2-3 days a week, with the option of working remotley, and a 3-month minimum commitment. By the end of the internship, the intern will have highly sought-after skills in programs such as Salesforce, WordPress and Constant Contact. It is the perfect place to learn and meet globally minded people dedicated to social change!
Please email your cover letter and resume to firstname.lastname@example.org to apply.
Want to know where Daraja students travel when they go home? Check out the map below!
Blue dot – City, town, or village a Daraja girl(s) is from
Yellow star – Daraja Academy campus
When the Daraja students traveled home last week, many traveled for only a few hours or a day while others journeyed for two or even three days. The diversity of Kenya is represented at Daraja with girls coming from almost every district in the country. Girls from Mombasa on the coast can share stories with students from Pokot in the west and Isiolo in the north. Daraja also understands the importance in providing an education to girls from the local villages and town of Nanyuki, where twenty-two Daraja girls call home.
Form 1 Rose Buda is from Turbi in Northern Kenya, ten hours north of the nearest major city, Marsabit. Rose travels for three days before she reaches her home, only three hours south of the Kenya-Ethipoia border. Seven Daraja girls live in Marsabit, a city located on the southern edge of Chalbi Desert. The city itself is surrounded by mountains, volcanoes, and small forests; but soon the landscape turns into dry, flat desert.
Form 2 Mary N is from Mazeras, a small town north of the large port city of Mombasa, located on the Indian Ocean. Mombasa is the second largest city in Kenya and is the main port for all of East and Central Africa. It is also a big tourist attraction. Mary travels for two days to get home along with eight Daraja students who live along the Mombasa-Nairobi Highway. Mombasa has extremely diverse culture and history going back to the Sixteenth Century.
Form 2 Molly is from Kisumu, located on Lake Victoria in Western Kenya. Lake Victoria is an extremely important for fishing, commerce, and tourism. The Nile River begins at the lake, which shares a border with neighboring Uganda. Surrounding Lake Victoria are numerous important cities and towns that are home to thirteen Daraja students.
Girls enjoy free time, Campus says goodbye to Andy Harley, and Students head home for break
Dance Class with volunteers Bissie and Hannah
Students enjoy a few days without class
With the end of final exams, students had the opportunity to have some fun around campus. Art and dance classes, hair braiding, and WISH were some of the fun activities the girls did. Volunteer Jill Eisenhart taught art to some girls and Bissie Brazakov brought the students together for dance. Term 2 has been the busiest yet and the girls definitely enjoyed the time without homework.
In the final WISH class of the term, all 104 students packed the patio. The girls sat in their Daraja families (made up of a student from each form) and gave advice to each other about different situations girls face at break. With much to do over break, the girls had many questions about how to balance their time at home.
Daraja says farewell to Volunteer Coordinator Andy Harley
Form 4 Emily and Mr. Andy
For over three years, Andy Harley has served Daraja campus tirelessly. He arrived on campus to work before the first students did in 2009. Sadly, however, the Daraja family said goodbye to the beloved ‘older brother’ to the girls. Over the past three years, Andy has taught history, coached football, and most recently been the volunteer coordinator, organizing the hundreds of people who have visited campus over the years.
As a final farewell, a goodbye dinner was held this week with the girls sharing their favorite Mr. Andy stories, especially from the Form 4s who have know Andy since they arrived on campus. Some girls sang songs and performed skits to share their love of Mr. Andy. It was a bittersweet evening for all the girls and staff to say ‘kwaheri’ to a beloved member of the Daraja family. We give a big ‘thank-you’ to Andy for all the time, hard work, and love he has given to Daraja. Asante sana!
Students Head Home for Break
Form 2s Euphrasia, Charity, and Fatuma were ready to see their families!
After an extremely busy and long Term 2, all 104 girls headed to their homes across Kenya. Some girls didn’t travel far (Form 4 Moreen lives at Daraja), while some girls will travel for three days until they reach their homes. Form One Rose will arrive at her home in Northern Kenya late Sunday night. Many of the girls were looking forward to going home and seeing family and friends, having fun, as well as resting.
The Form 3 and 4s will return to campus August 13th for Tuition Studies. During this two week intensive, the girls will focus on preparing for the K.C.S.E. (Kenyan Certificate of Secondary Education) the Form 4s will take this November and the Form 3s in one year. The Form 1 and 2s will return September 1st. We wish all the girls a safe and happy break!