The Gumbi Alton Permaculture Project

Since 2020 ACAN has been working with the Gumbi Education Fund, (founded 20 years ago by the late, great John Vidal, the Environment Editor of The Guardian for 30 years) helping the Gumbi villages in central Malawi in southern Africa, where most families are subsistence farmers growing maize as a monoculture crop. This requires expensive chemical fertiliser and reliable rains, without which the crop fails. With climate change and price increases for fertiliser, it is a precarious livelihood.

ACAN donors paid for 15 young people to be trained in mixed farming at the wonderfully-named Permaculture Paradise Institute, growing a wide range of local crops, fruit and nut trees without chemical fertilisers. In 2021, the money raised from Alton helped to buy them 3 acres of land – the Gumbi-Alton farm – and they have successfully grown many crops and planted young trees.  They have also been funded to build a store, a classroom, and water storage for irrigation, and bought pigs, rabbits and goats, using their manure as fertiliser.  

ACAN has funded tools and seeds for villagers to use sustainable agriculture on their own small homestead plots. The farmers we have trained are now planning to teach farmers from other villages their permaculture techniques, to spread their methods. Rondavel accommodation and a training kitchen are being constructed in 2024/25, funded by an ACAN major donor.

This 5-minute November 2022 video, made by James Willis using a narrative by John Vidal, offers a moving introduction to the project .

In December 2022 we recorded an online meeting with the farmers in Malawi and the Permaculture Paradise Institute  ‘Walking beside Gumbi young farmers on a journey to Paradise’.

You can DONATE through the GUMBI button on the donation page on this website to help our work to develop sustainable agriculture in Malawi. This is our climate justice project: the 20 million Malawians are responsible for less than 0.04% of global greenhouse gas emissions, but are victims of climate breakdown caused mainly by rich countries.

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