What started as a mission to provide refuge to abandoned and abused girls has grown into a holistic approach to alleviating extreme rural poverty. The Janada L. Batchelor Foundation for Children’s (JBFC) four-pronged strategy includes providing a safe home for girls, quality primary, secondary, and vocational education to both boys and girls, access to health care, and rural economic development through the JBFC farm. For the past 4 years, Mark Shepard and JBFC have been working together on their farm to make the agriculture on campus more self-sustaining and to hopefully improve the local community’s understanding of sustainable, long-term agricultural practices.
On any given week the farm is now producing between 80 and 120 kilograms (176 and 220 pounds) of food- a consistent combination of passion fruit, papaya, sweet potatoes, sweet bananas, plantains, pomegranate, cucumber, onions, tomatoes, white eggplant, okra, comfrey (a perennial green), cabbage, and mchicha (a local baby spinach). Click here for an update on the project.
The benefits for JBFC are clear:
- Reduce our reliance on market-bought goods.
- Increase the caloric productivity of our farm land.
- Diversify food, plant and animal life.
- Prevent erosion and improve the general health of our soil
- Maximize energy production and storage (through photosynthesis)
- Increase our ability to store water (and reduce water usage) in an arid African climate
- Help improve the agricultural practices used by local farmers in our community, who traditionally have over-relied on staples such as rice, beans, and corn to feed their communities. And these are the crops that can deplete their farm land of useful nutrients, making it harder to match crop yields the following year.
- Immediate relief services for abandoned and abused girls
- Quality primary, secondary and vocational education for community children
- Rural access to healthcare
- Farm and Livestock Education & Commerce
- Sustainable water and energy solutions
- Rural Job Creation