Reframe: Trajectory shifts in the SLGC


Remember front porch's recent article about adaptability in our January blog post? This spring, we had an opportunity to put resilience to the test.


During the month of May, an issue arose with one of the land lessors that ultimately necessitated an in-person site visit. Read on to find out what transpired...

In June 2022, front porch President Andy Mueller returned to the Samudāya Learning Garden Center (SLGC) to meet with KRMEF founder Krishna Gurung and Operations Director Santosh Chhetri and offer technical assistance on our collaborative project.


The backstory:

Due to a miscommunication, one key land owner retracted their verbal agreement to lease a portion of land earmarked for nearly half of the Demonstration Garden area. In Khahare, land use agreements within the community are typically finalized through a contract known as a "thumbprint" lease.


Essentially, this document outlines the agreements upon what land parcel(s) will be rented, for what price, and for how long. In this case, two issues were presented upon the thumbprint signing: a) the land owner did not have a deed to their land--a necessary component of this type of contract; and b) they decided it was not in their best interest to, in fact, go through with their previous decision to lease their land for SLGC's use.


Subsequently, further construction on the gardens' infrastructure could not continue as planned, sending Andy back to the drawing board to redesign the demonstration garden solely on the remaining parcel:













Master Site Layout Plan updated (in greyscale) to reflect reduced garden area

 

With Andy onsite to iron out details and offer focused direction, the team could now concentrate on various aspects of SLGC development:

  • Redesign/relocation of the tool shed, washing station, seedling nursery, & greenhouse

  • Completion of soil testing in upper garden area: Test results indicate that the soil is deficient in nitrogen, phosphorous, & potassium however the PH level is acceptable.

  • Solutions:

  • Manage nitrogen deficiency of soils by introducing N-fixing plants such as legumes

  • Work in green compost to boost soils' nutrients

  • Sow red clover as a cover crop at the end of the growing season

  • Apply additional compost at the end of this fall and early spring for next growing season

  • Add forest leaves as mulch

 

Our search for an intern resulted in the hiring of Manik Raj Tuladhar, SLGC's new project manager. Manik is a local, enthusiastic self-starter who is eager to understand the inner workings of both SLGC and KRMEF; just a few weeks in, he has already made wonderful inroads on both accounts. Weekly updates and photos illustrate Manik's progress as he builds rapport with garden workers, community members, construction laborers, and KRMEF core staff.


Manik's presence and aptitude is not only reducing strain on KRMEF's staff, but is also building momentum in implementing the SLGC. Dialing in task prioritization and completion with Manik and the KRMEF team are thus far smoothing the way towards the gardens' operationalization.

 

Additional tasks completed onsite:

  • Finalized irrigation for upper garden terraces

  • Researched and discussed cold storage options: capacity, construction, power source(s), & location

  • Discussed & planned intercropping & crop rotation

  • Initiated pest management, i.e., squash vine borer; key points included the what, where, & why of controlling insects & weeds

  • Purchased organic liquid fertilizer supplies & plan to institute the application processes

  • Assembled a comprehensive digital resource library supportive of biodynamic & organic gardening

  • Obtained more local cow manure for compost making

  • Explored bee/beehive integration to encourage cross-pollination

  • Installed a water gauge on the gardens' 5,000L irrigation cistern

  • Examined & discussed mechanisms for water harvesting and grey water use/storage regarding the washing station

 

Working on SLGC in-country has deepened front porch's relationships with community members, particularly among the women who have been instrumental in the gardens' implementation. Allow us to introduce you to the wonderful women who are SLGC's Garden Manager and Community Coordinators:















Garden Manager Kali (top) and Community Coordinators Kamala (left),

Mali (center), & Chirimaya (right)


Although Nepal's monsoon season has hampered consistent efforts for the past several weeks, the project is indeed moving along! Manik's photos illustrate current

work-in-progress:


KRMEF carpenters Nabin, Bhim, & Rhamchandra frame the greenhouse,

seedling nursery, washing station, and tool/storage shed.


Nabin prepares the greenhouse beds for tomato planting. The use of low-tech roll-up sides allows for interior temperature regulation.


Toolshed relocated just above the demonstration garden in the 1st upper terrace.

 

Other notable developments:

  • Orange, Guava, Hug Plum, Hong Kong Orchid, Persimmon, and Himalayan Bamboo are among the newly planted fruit and ornamental trees now dotting the gardens' landscape.

  • Coming soon! The washing station's solar array, donated and installed by Sun Farmer Nepal, will serve as the water pump's power source.

 


Establishing SLGC's infrastructure, building soil biodiversity, and cultivating healthy produce encompasses the majority of our collective efforts in the gardens. However, work to resolve a recent land boundary dispute has added a layer of complexity to the overall picture. We are fortunate to have solid negotiations that we see as resulting in a positive outcome for all involved.


Along with KRMEF's progress photos, Manik's regular updates serve to improve transparency and delineate accountability, all of which ensures timely insights into future SLGC developments. We are quite excited for what's to come!


We at front porch thank you again for your continued support and invite you to keep abreast of SLGC's growth in the coming months.


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Namaste,

Andy, Mae, & front porch and KRMEF teams


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