By Jolene Njambi
When Maureen Chelagat, from Sotik, Bomet County, decided to venture into vertical farming, she only had ambitions of saving on a few coins that she would spend buying vegetables for her family of three. She had no idea that it would result in a full indoor garden of 15 five litre Jerri cans, and her saving on her daily consumption costs by up to 80 per cent.
Two months ago, she began her vertical garden by planting onions, tomatoes, garlic, thyme, chilies and passion fruit seeds in five of her leftover five-liter Jerri cans. She bought seeds from the same nearby market where she would buy her vegetables from, cut the plastic cans in half, used soil mixed with chicken manure from the chicken that she rears, and committed to watering her seeds twice a day.
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Since then, she has been able to grow 15 Jerri cans that yield at least five crops each of all the seedlings she planted.
“Now, even my neighbours request vegetables from me. They also get to save on costs they would have initially incurred from buying these same vegetables from the market.”
Before chancing on vertical farming, she used to spend around Sh100 daily on buying onions, tomatoes, thyme, garlic and chilies. Now she only uses Sh20 for sukuma wiki and Spinach.
Realizing that her garden is gaining popularity, she is now confident that she should be able to sell her vegetables for profit in the near future.
In the mean-time, she is transitioning from using Jerri cans to sacks as they leave more room to produce more yields. She is now focusing on growing more of sukuma wiki and spinach as she has noted there is an increasing demand for them from her neighbours.
“As they request for vegetables, many ask if I have sukuma wiki too. I have noticed that it is more in demand than the spices I have been growing.”
This is also in proper alignment with her future business ambitions. She hopes that by continuing to expand her vertical garden she will be able to better feed her family.