THE HISTORY OF THE
VICTORY GARDEN CAMPAIGN
HELPING FIGHT THE FOOD CRISIS IN MALAWI
In Malawi, villagers rely on a once-a-year maize (corn) harvest — a non-native crop — to feed themselves through the year. With frequent floods and droughts, families often cannot grow enough food to feed themselves. In 2016-19, Malawi faced its worst food crisis since 1985 as its maize harvest registered a 42% decline, and a state of emergency was declared because half the nation’s population needed food assistance.
One typical farmer, Kalekeni Chiundo, said his maize harvest amounted to 1 oxcart, or about $34. But his expenses for seed, fertilizer, transport, bags and other items totaled $115 — a net loss of $81. In debt and with scant food supplies, Mr. Chiundo didn't know how he'd feed his family.
THE LAUNCH OF THE CAMPAIGN
The Face-to-Face Project’s Victory Garden Campaign provides long-term relief to Malawian farmers like Mr. Chiundo by teaching them to bring food-growing into the villages and next to their homes. As villagers transform the barren earth by their houses into small, lush gardens that continuously produce food, families begin winning their own war against hunger and extreme poverty.
Built on several years of pilot projects, The Face-to-Face Project launched the Campaign in July 2016. Kicking off with three weeks of community-led events in three tribal districts near Lilongwe, activities included garden demonstrations, youth sporting events, song and drama events, and home garden workshops.
HOW IT WORKS
Working closely with the tribal chief leadership structure, the Campaign uses peer-to-peer training to put new farming knowledge into the communities. In short, The Face-to-Face Project picks the most motivated villagers and trains them to be Victory Garden facilitators.
As of July 2019, over 280 facilitators have continued conducting scores of workshops in villages in 7 tribal districts that have taught thousands of families how to create and maintain home victory gardens.
After receiving their training, facilitators then conduct 1-day villager workshops to teach groups of 25-30 villagers about home Victory Gardens. Participants must create at least one garden on the day of their workshop.
Facilitators conduct villager workshops every month, and encourage and inspire people to reach out to relatives, neighbors, and friends to start their own gardens, generating a collective sense of inspiration and motivation as villages across Malawi learn that they can grow enough food to eat.
EXPANSION & COLLABORATION
The Face-to-Face Project's Malawi office recently traveled to Kenya to conduct a 3-day victory garden workshop for the staff of the Africa Sand Dam Foundation. The Foundation reached out to us after seeing our success in Malawi, and asked to undergo a training workshop so they could begin to teach their communities how to improve food production and develop food security. We would like to give a special thanks to The Charitable Foundation for their support in making this workshop possible.
The Face-to-Face Project recently collaborated with French NGO, Cultures Permanentes, and its founder, Mr. Cristiano Marinucci, to conduct a weeklong series of permaculture workshops for 120 local village facilitators in southern and central Malawi. Cristiano concentrated on training victory garden facilitators on soil rejuvenation, water conservation, and dry season cultivation. Cristiano has extensive experience teaching permaculture in Africa, and his organization works to promote permaculture in urban and rural areas. We would like to give a very special thanks to the Sandrose Foundation for helping fund Cristiano's work with F2F.
The Face-to-Face Project partnered with the EKARI Foundation to expand The Victory Garden Campaign in the Phalombe District of southern Malawi. We kicked off our victory garden workshops with the aim of creating 15,000 home victory gardens that produce food for 50,000 people within 2 years. As of January 2018, the total number of gardens in Phalombe is now over 700. This Campaign is supported by the The Charitable Foundation and its Australian partner, Action on Poverty
THE HISTORY OF VICTORY AND HOME GARDENS
Victory Garden Campaigns during World War I and II rallied American and British citizens to grow their own food at home. In 1943, 20 million gardens produced 40% of all vegetables grown that year in the U.S., enabling more resources for the war and galvanizing a whole nation behind a common cause. More recently, the United Nation’s Food and Agricultural Organization has facilitated home garden projects in Pakistan, Bangladesh, India, Bhutan, India, Indonesia, Niger, Somalia, Lesotho and Algeria.