Visit to Nurisha

We arrived at the farm starting 9am. Upon arrival, we were treated to a delicious tea spread. The mandazis were a definite hit! The official programme for the day began with the Annual General Meeting for KHS – Machakos. After dispensing with the AGM, our Nurisha learning experience commenced.

As an introduction of our tour to the Farm, Gai Cullen gave us a brief overview of permaculture (definition above). At Nurisha Farm, synergies between human settlements and agricultural systems and/or their various components are maximized through ingenious designs and sustainable management of resources.
Some components of the permaculture activities at Nurisha include Water Collection, use of “Berkshire tractors” for land preparation, sustainable housing, energy generation and wastewater treatment systems.

Following Gai’s briefing, we split into two groups for the tour of the farm. Langat and Gai were our guides.

Water Management Systems

The water management strategy at Nurisha is anchored upon harvesting of rainwater and adaptation of methods that ensure maximum ground absorption of water over the longest possible time periods.

Rainwater is harvested and preserved in tanks for human consumption. Damming is key with the property currently boasting ten dams, two of which retain water throughout the dry season. Berms are constructed to ensure that there is efficient seepage of rainwater into the ground where the terrain is sloping.

Off-grid Energy Sources

Nurisha is not connected to the National Power Grid. As such, the farm produces it’s own energy for various purposes. Solar e energy is used to generate electricity. Biogas is used for cooking whereas old engine oil powers the boiler for heating water. Additionally, biochar is used in the production of wood vinegar and for smoking various food items.

Sustainable Housing

One of Nurisha’ s indisputable gems is an architectural wonder in the form of a one bedroomed mud and wood house. The house has been constructed using environmentally friendly materials. The natural lighting and décor in the house is boosted by the clever use of colorful glass pieces. The open air WC that overlooks stunning views of the Savannah Plains. Those who were fortunate enough to use this facility can surely attest to the fact that that the experience presents a whole new meaning to “letting go of nature’s leavings”!

Further, the design of the house ensures that it is easy to maintain and that heating and cooling needs are effectively met.

Gardening Practices

Land Preparation: Nurisha Farm has both No-dig and Double- Dig gardens. The distinction between these two garden types is in the land preparation technique. The No-dig raised gardens are ‘tilled’ using Berkshire pigs. These animals are simply relocated to the relevant site for a few days. They are then allowed to proceed with their natural behavior of scouring for scraps of the food. This action prepares the ground for planting whilst maintaining healthy levels of aeration and distribution of soil nutrients.

The raised Double-dig gardens on the other hand, involve the addition of organic matter after the loosening of the top-soil and sub-soil layers. It takes a couple of years before double-dig patches can be utilized for planting. Sack gardens are also grown.

Plant Selection: the practice of companion planting is employed at Nurisha Farm. Certain plants are grown in the same planting bed because of the mutual benefit obtained from having them within close proximity.

Members of the nightshade family (such as tomatoes and peppers) for example, will do well when planted in the same bed as marigolds and basil. This is because marigolds and basil repel nematodes and hornworms, respectively.

Similarly, some plants are kept away from each other.

Plant Rotation: Plants that are vulnerable to similar diseases are not rotated within the same space.

Organic pesticides: organic pesticides used include tobacco, tree tomato leaves and biden pilosa (black jack).

Irrigation: a drip irrigation system has been installed within the gardening beds.

Mulch: Hay is used as mulch. The mulch is applied before planting takes place.

Mushrooms are grown in buckets within a charcoal fridge.

Food Forest

There is a food forest filled with edible tree plants. The food forest is also instrumental in building up soils in this area.

Farm Animals

Animals reared at he farm include chicken, ducks, geese, turkey, Toggenburg goats, cows and Berkshire pigs (which contrary to popular belief, are not filthy at all)!

Wastewater Treatment System

Animals reared at he farm include chicken, ducks, geese, turkey, Toggenburg goats, cows and Berkshire pigs (which contrary to popular belief, are not filthy at all)!

Sewage waste at Nurisha is treated through a gravel, charcoal and soil filled wetland. Bananas and grass growing in the wetland assist in breaking down waste. This waste takes at least twenty years to flow through the wetland.

Compost Systems and Animal Feeds

Organic waste from the farm is converted into compost, a valuable fertilizing agent. There is an aquaponics system within which the fish provide valuable nutrients for growing vegetables such as lettuce.

Pig droppings are used to grow worms that serve as poultry feed. Barley that is sprouted using a controlled hydroponic environment is also used to nourish the poultry. Lucina, Azolla and Desmodium grown in the Double-dig beds are used to feed the livestock.

Natural Tonics and Value Added Products

We were introduced to Diatomaceous Earth (DE), a white coloured flour like powder which is mined at Gilgil.

DE is used to for treat and foster wellness of the farm animals. It is especially beneficial to the chickens.

Baking soda and milk are used to treat certain plant diseases.

Value addition of farm produce includes the production of wood vinegar, cheese, butter and smoking of meats


After the extensive and eye-opening tour of the farm, we were invited to a sumptuous lunch spread. We had an opportunity to network and later, purchase farm products which included books, Diatomaceous Earth, Moringa oil, Baobab oil, honey, organic eggs, and pork.

After lunch, members departed at their leisure.






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