When we finished building the orphanage in 2018, we planted several fruit trees (including mango, oranges, pawpaw and bananas) for the kids to eat. Unfortunately Kenya is experiencing a severe drought and some of our fruit trees have died, but our lemons, oranges and mangoes are going strong. In 2021, a greenhouse was constructed to increase the amount and variety of crops we can grow, including collard greens, spinach, tomatoes, carrots. It’s been a learning experience and we’re finding out what type of vegetables and fruits grow well in the soil at the orphanage. We’ve also engaged an agronomist to teach our house mothers and house father how to tend to our gardens and we’re planning to plant hay to feed our cows (more on that below).
A gaggle of egg-laying and meat chickens joined the Victoria’s Children campus in 2021. Eggs are collected and a portion are fed to the kids and the remainder are sold at a local market. In 2022, many of our chickens were impacted by a disease, so our flock has thinned. We’ve learned that hybrid chickens don’t do as well, so we’re slowly purchasing native Kenyan chickens that are used to the climate in Kenya.
In 2022, we worked with a local beekeeper to bring beehives to the orphanage. The beehives (pictured below) were carved by hand from trees that the beekeeper's sons cut down. We’re also planning to plant sunflowers to draw the bees to our hives so the they’ll pollinate the vegetables and fruit trees at the campus. This allows us to harvest honey, which the kids will be able to eat and we’ll be able to sell at the market to offset some of our food costs.
We also have a group of goats, sheep and cows at the orphanage. We built a barn for these animals, and we’re working with a local herdsman to learn how to best care for them. As you might imagine, our kids drink a lot of milk!
All of these initiatives have helped cut costs and allowed the kids to take on chores at the orphanage. They’re responsible for tending to and harvesting produce, collecting eggs, caring for the beehives and collecting honey. It’s important to us that our children care for their home and learn responsibility.