"…earlier on I was not as vibrant as I am now. I love making friends and not just friends but those that are very enthusiastic [about] tree planting and working together to improve this climate of ours."
On her small farm, nestled into the side of Mount Kenya, Anastasia Ngugi has been planting tea and coffee for decades; since 2016, she has also been planting trees. Her farm is small, and mostly dedicated to her main crops, so she started planting grevillea, macadamia, and avocado trees around the boundary.
Every farmer that joins TIST chooses which practices and trainings they want to incorporate on their farm. For Anastasia, one TIST practice that has been particularly useful has been jikos (improved cookstoves). She says, “I love TIST trainings and using improved energy stoves because as a woman I am the one to prepare meals for my family and therefore I have to plan on how to get firewood. I use these jikos because they use less firewood and [create] no smoke.” TIST provides training and resources to build stoves that capture and focus heat more efficiently while minimizing emissions. This has health, safety, and economic benefits that especially benefit women and children.
Last season, Anastasia attended a training in the Kandigi Cluster in Imenti Catchment. Her TIST trainer discussed how to use Conservation Farming to improve crop yields without using chemical fertilizer. She went home and dug 80 holes. The harvest is approaching and she anticipates generating at least 80kgs of maize using TIST best practices, more than she could have even had she continued purchasing fertilizer.
Some of the benefits most important to farmers are the hardest to quantify. As Anastasia tells it “… earlier on I was not as vibrant as I am now. I love making friends and not just friends but those that are very enthusiastic [about] tree planting and working together to improve this climate of ours.” In meetings with Cluster representatives, this theme came up time and again. The friendships, networks, and personal development through TIST are some of the most important benefits.
In just a couple of years, Anastasia’s participation in TIST has resulted in avocadoes, macadamia nuts, fodder (from grevillea), improved crop yields, carbon income and access to an improved cookstove. By following TIST Best Practices, she now uses less fertilizer and firewood, inhales less smoke while cooking, and lives on a more beautiful and productive piece of land. She’s accomplished this all while becoming a more engaged, vibrant, and connected member of her community. TIST Farmers like Anastasia plant trees to receive carbon income. As the trees and participants grow within the program, these trees come to support a broad canopy of best practices and benefits.