Sack Gardens

Sue found this idea a while ago on another charity’s website and decided to try it out in Malawi. It works really well – so thank you to whoever had this idea! A friend added to the original design.

Sack gardenSue sewed 4 maize sacks together so that the sides of the “garden” are double material. The big (10cm long) needles and cord used to sew up tobacco sacks were ideal for the job. The 15 cm  base and the central core are filled with 2cm stone chippings. This filters dirty water and acts as a water reservoir when the sack sits 20 cms deep in the ground. Good, composted soil was used to fill the sacks to within 10 cms of the top.

A variety of seeds were sewn – beans, cucumbers, herbs, cabbages and beetroot –  and a “roof” of reed grass (quite thick – about 5 cms) was placed loosely over the seeds to protect then from the fierce sun. The “roof” was thinned out as the seedlings grew, at least until they had their secondary leaves. The cabbages sprouted in 24 hours, beans in 48 hours, beetroot and cucumber in about 4 days and the herbs a bit slower, sprouting in about 5 days.

After about 2 weeks, the beans looked a bit yellow and the gardeners, who were taking on the project after we left, decided to apply some general purpose fertiliser – they wanted good results and know the needs of the local soil – more natural methods perhaps for another day!

There was plenty of interest in this experiment – some ideas included, using the sack gardens as nursery beds until the plants are big enough to transplant to open ground, herb gardens near kitchen areas, small gardens in urban/shanty housing areas or placed at the end of well run-offs to prevent erosion and use waste water, perhaps planted up with antiseptic herbs to be used to clean out buckets instead of the usual practice of using contaminated stones from around the well head.

Some results – problems, quantities harvested, etc should be known by the end of October 2013, but the most results will come next year when we see if these “gardens” are viable through the dry season.

Sue’s Updates (10) SAM


– or to give it its full title – Servicing and Maintenance of Hospital Equipment. Keith Feay continues with his excellent work of advising on this via phone and internet. Now folk feel more confident in reporting defects and are able to carry out repairs with Keith’s help. Long gone is the fear of “losing face” if machines for which you are responsible “pack up”. Thanks again, Keith.

Sue’s Updates (9) Mlowe Clinic

SAM_0342What a difference! Gone is the “forgotten” look and feel of the clinic. Now it has been renovated, there are plenty of disposables courtesy of the aid agencies, it is well staffed and, at last, the water is running. Running water at the clinic has been a long battle with a borehole that couldn’t be drilled quite deep enough because of the large, hard boulders in the sub-soil so pumps burnt out or failed. Now there is a time switch which allows the well to fill before the demand exceeds supply and a storage tank to stabilise supply. Mlowe Clinic does still need a “fixtures and Fittings” upgrade – stainless steel trolleys and tables, bookcases, filing cabinets, etc.


Sue’s Updates (8) The Jesus Film

Jesus FilmLast year the Raven Trust donated a DVD projector and sound system together with a 26 x 16 ft screen to the Synod of Livingstonia Evangelism Department to allow them to show the Jesus Film to audiences of up to 1,000 people in the open air. The Jesus Film was sent out with the equipment and supplied in Tambuka, Tonda and Nyakusa -Ngonde – the three main languages in the north of Malawi. Churches are now asking the Synod for their own copy of the film (and for projectors and screens….) One venue that the Synod is planning to use for the showing of the film is the large sports stadium in Mzuzu. Please pray for the success of their work

Sue’s Updates (7) Evangelism

101_0944The Mzuzu Evangelist Association is an ecumenical team which takes the gospel to people in the streets and outlying villages through music, drama, storytelling and sport. Formed barely 2 years ago, they now have more work than they can cope with. They are still full of enthusiasm and get loads of requests to return to venues. One market has a prayer group at lunch times and others will follow. Please pray for the follow-up work as people’s lives are changed.