A unique ambiance filled with enthusiasm and joy defined the new Earth Market Kagio in Kirinyaga County. People walking between the tents filled with fresh produce, seeds, and organic fertilizer, ask questions, buy products, and are greeted by the farmers of the Slow Food Kenya team.
Once a month, the customers can expect food and animal products from local farmers who follow agroecological principles and are ready to inform people about everything they sell, from the soil to plate to nutritional benefits.
All the producers are part of Slow Food Kenya communities and have training in the principles of agroecology for sustainable production.
Markets are places of gathering and connection, and that is what everyone experienced in this new Slow Food Earth Market.
While some enjoyed a mug of traditional porridge (Urucu wa Mukio, a fermented beverage part of the Slow Food Kenya Ark of Taste), others became explorers of the stalls. They were guided by curiosity and asked questions that served as a way to reconnect with ancestral foods and old ways of cooking.
The benefits of organically grown produce were skilfully delivered during a talk in the local Kikuyu language breaking down the sometimes complex principles of Agroecology and sustainably grown food into easily understandable and relatable ideas.
These talks are a reminder that the discussion around good, clean, and fair food should be inclusive and accessible to all people to shape the future of food.
The attentiveness shown by the residents is proof that people are genuinely interested in improving their food and farming choices, however, the missing link is access to vital education on how to go about it. That is one of the main reasons the Earth Market is such a positive step in the right direction. It holds the potential to provide access to local farm produce and serve as an educational platform for the County, which has the highest number of people with lifestyle and other non-communicable diseases (Diabetes, obesity, cancer).
In his speech during the ribbon-cutting ceremony, the County Director of Agriculture in Kirinyaga commended the organic farmers and the Slow Food Kenya team for their continued work of protecting the soil and biodiversity, which he termed the only way to regenerate food systems.
He called on the farmers to ensure their produce is traceable and certifiable, encouraging them to find innovative ways to market their products, assuring them that there is indeed a market for good food not just in the County but Countrywide.
Caroline Moko, who represents Sylvia’s basket, an organic grocery store based in Nairobi, talked to the farmers about the growing interest in organic products. Also adding, they are happy to create a partnership to ensure their produce reaches a bigger market, through their physical shop and online platform.
Several other stakeholders who are friends of Slow Food Kenya came together to ensure the day’s success. Among them were the Participatory Ecological Land Use Management (PELUM) Kenya, Organic Agriculture Centre of Kenya, C-Shep, Bio Vision Africa Trust, and Lion’s Club.
The day was a good start, hoping that once a month when the Earth Market tents are in place, more residents stop by. The tides have begun to shift for the better in Kirinyaga with the launch of the Slow Food Earth Market Kagio.