The cabbage seedlings sprouted last week and are continuing to grow under the shade structure until they are big enough for transplanting. Photo by Saskia Sichermann.

by KareMeKuc co-founder Max Clary

Dear friends & supporters,

I hope you all are well and enjoying your summer with your friends and family! If it is possible for you, go to a swimming pool for me! I miss swimming pools desperately as I find myself turning crispy under the Ugandan sun. I write to you all with another update from KareMeKuc. From now on my blog posts will be specifically project-related.

As you all know by now, our programming is underway as our beloved teacher, Calvin. So far in class we have been covering the importance of tending to soil with minimum tillage, seed selection, preparing nursery beds for seedlings, and planting techniques for beans, cabbage, and sweet potato vines. Calvin asked the students to give the class a general sense of practices already being implemented in the community and then discussed the benefits and disadvantages for current practices. He is doing this to help students identify for themselves which way may be the best way to tend their land. On the land itself, we have been preparing the land and planting beans, which will be the major topic we discuss this week. So far we have been preparing the land by having half the class hoeing to break up soil clumps and the other half of the class working behind them them to pick up the weeds with strong root systems. The weeds are drying out so after we plant, we can use them in combination with straw mulch to suppress additional weed growth.

Last week, we finished land preparation for the entire demonstration site and planted the first plot of beans. Photo by Saskia Sichermann.

In the background, we have been working on developing a mentor system post-program completion. We are talking with Calvin and CPU staff that know the communities we are working with to identify the leaders in their villages that are also in our program. We are also working with Calvin to identify equal numbers of men and women who are excelling in class. We will be working with Jane and the CPU program director to create the protocol for how mentors will be a resource for members of their graduating class as well as the community in general. Each student will be asked to identify several households they will be responsible for sharing the information with. We will keep you all updated on the progress.

Land preparation requires hard work from the students, but they always seem to have a lot of energy for the hands-on days in the field. Photo by Saskia Sichermann.

All in all, I believe this program is running well with the hiccups that every pilot program has. I believe strongly in CPU’s ability to communicate and identify issues and correct them as necessary in this program and future iterations. I recently spoke with Jane (executive director of CPU) to discuss this week’s sessions and felt really proud and secure in the success of this program. This feeling is partly based on her ability to synthesize information brought to her by Calvin and the KareMeKuc team and generate positive solutions to the roadblocks we encounter.

Students take a break from working in the upper corner of the garden, where sweet potato vines were later planted.

For example, one thing we have noticed as a possible issue is that the children we are working with have a wide range of experiences and background knowledge on the material we are covering. We are now implementing pre- and post- unit assessments so we have a clear sense of what is generally known or what is not known and may require additional time. In addition, these assessments will also give us a clear picture of our impact in the classroom so that we can see if our students are indeed being helped and are learning. As we go forward, there will undoubtedly be ways that we can improve our program and I feel extremely confident with CPU in helping us navigate these waters.  

Thank you for your time,

The land preparation process involves breaking up clumps and leveling the soil with hoes. Then, the weeds with large root systems are collected in a pile so they can dry out and be used as mulch later. Photo by Saskia Sichermann.

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