Flora Kawonga came across Deep Bed Farming (DBF) in 2008 when Tiyeni established its first demonstration garden at Honga Section, near where she lives. She and her husband Robert saw the benefits and began using our methods.
Now 66 years old (in 2020), with two daughters and a son, she says she loves the methods because they have given her such high crop yields, and save labour too. Early planting and mulching controls weeds, and she can leave her land for years without tilling, unlike with more traditional ridge farming where you are supposed to make new ridges every year.
Though her field has a moderate slope, water does not move about on it because of the contour-aligned beds and box ridges. There are no signs of soil erosion. She maintains her DBF field in good shape with contour marker ridges reinforced with Vetiver grass, good beds, raised foot paths and agroforestry (using Tephrosia.)
Flora also applies manure to improve soil fertility and she grows maize in rotation with legumes, especially soya beans, every two years. In the 2018/19 season she grew 750 kg of maize from 0.4 hectares of land: enough for her to keep 250 kg for food and to sell 500 kg! She also dedicated 0.1 hectares to groundnuts using DBF, with impressive results too. She plans soon to convert all her arable land, covering 0.8 hectares, to DBF.
Farmers in her community are now using her as their role model, and she wishes that all farmers would adopt DBF methods, to increase their food and income security. In the season 2019/2020 she was also selected by a seed company to showcase the performance of three maize varieties.
She says she has had no shortage of food for the past 10 years, and that hunger is now a thing of the past.
Note: the banner image of roots is not from Flora's farm but from another farm in Honga. (Source here)