20 greenhouses provided by the Co-op Foundation

It was a great day today visiting the Peace Co-operative near Ekwendeni. This is our second major greenhouse project with 20 polytunnels erected so far, and more to come. We brought together a large group of women investors just 9 months ago who formed the Peace Co-operative, bought some land and, with support from the Co-operative Foundation in the UK, we were able to provide the greenhouses for the women. The women borrowed money through our new relationship with Lend With Care and this has enabled a borehole to be dug and solar powered drip irrigation to be installed. Our staff are training and supporting the women to grow tomatoes and peppers and they are doing really well. But the great news is that the Peace Co-operative applied to the Malawi Government for support and are receiving a grant to allow us to double the size of the operation – 40 greenhouses with the potential to grow 25 tonnes of fruit every month!

Word is spreading about the quality of fruit that can be grown in greenhouses

All this is happening in the same area where we are developing our first farm. This unique enterprise will see 100 Malawians investing in a company we have set up – we have 72 investors already – and we are working with them to design a 10 hectare, fully irrigated farm to grow high quality vegetables. Work has begun clearing the site and it was good to see it taking shape. Initially, we are sinking two boreholes for water but there is a deep gully where we will build a dam to harvest water during the rainy season and then use solar power to pump to tanks on top of the perfectly positioned anthills.

The bulldozer has cleared the first two hectares and the anthill is well positioned as a base for the water tanks

As we were walking around the farm, someone said that although we have only been working on the site for a month, God had arranged the ants to work there for years preparing the tank foundations. I’m not sure about the theology of that, but the anthill is perfect! The farm is adjacent to the Peace Co-operative’s greenhouses so we will have one Farm Manager overseeing the whole operation.

Cleared farmland with the greenhouses in the distance

Washing clothes is one of the many hard chores for women in Malawi. One of the women had filled the wheelbarrow with water and was doing her washing because it was easier on her back than using a bucket on the ground. “Do you like my washing machine”, she said.