Permafund grant for Urban Farming in Kenya

Permafund grant for Urban Farming in Kenya

The Rafiki Community-Based Organisation in Nairobi Kenya successfully applied for a $2,000 Permafund grant in early 2023 to support their Rafiki Urban Farming program.


Their community initiative is being implemented in Viwandani informal settlements in the city to promote sustainable and resilient food production systems by applying permaculture ethics and principles.

The program was initiated to address food insecurity, improve nutrition, poverty and environmental degradation in the community. By implementing permaculture practices, the program seeks to empower the local community to grow their food, reduce their dependence on external food sources and improve their overall well-being. 

Since its inception, the Rafiki Urban Farming program has made significant progress in various aspects. Firstly, the program has successfully mobilised and engaged the community in the establishment and maintenance of urban farms. Through awareness campaigns and capacity-building workshops, community members have been trained on permaculture and organic farming techniques and sustainable resource management.

As a result of these efforts, a considerable number of urban farms have been established across Viwandani informal settlements. These farms have not only provided a source of nutritious food but have also served as spaces for community cohesion and skill-sharing.

Vertical gardening using recycled containers
Vertical gardening with recycled contaners

The program has facilitated the formation of farmers’ groups where members collaborate, exchange knowledge, and support each other in implementing permaculture practices. Moreover, the program has successfully reached its initial target of establishing 50 individual and communal permaculture gardens within the community. These gardens are owned by residents to ensure widespread access to fresh produce. As a result, more than 50 individuals now have direct access to nutritious food from their gardens, reducing their reliance on expensive market purchases. 

The current status of the Rafiki Urban Farming program is highly encouraging, achieving several notable accomplishments. Firstly, the program has significantly increased access to fresh and nutritious produce for the community members, with a diverse range of crops and herbs being cultivated. This has positively impacted food security and improved the overall health and well-being of the residents, particularly vulnerable groups such as children and the elderly.

Permaculture training leading to food production solutions

Plus the program has empowered community members by providing valuable knowledge and skills in permaculture and sustainable farming practices. This has led to increased self-reliance, as farmers can now grow their food, make their compost and reduce reliance on external sources. Additionally, the program has created income-generating opportunities through surplus produce sales, contributing to poverty alleviation and economic empowerment within the community. 

Furthermore, the program has raised awareness about the importance of sustainable agriculture and environmental conservation. Through community events, workshops, and educational materials, the program has disseminated information on permaculture ethics and principles, leading to a broader understanding and appreciation for sustainable practices. The program has also forged partnerships with local schools, enabling the integration of permaculture into the curriculum and fostering a culture of sustainability among the younger generation. 

Challenges encountered 

● Lack of access to quality organic inputs, such as compost and organic fertilisers. Participants are encouraged to compost their organic waste and share it with others, creating a decentralized composting network.

Utilising available resources with practical results

● Limited space so innovative solutions adopted such as vertical gardening, rooftop farming and re-purposing small, unused spaces.

Saving space recycled containers & hanging gardens

● The knowledge and skills gap has been addressed by conducting regular training sessions covering permaculture principles, organic farming techniques, soil management, pest control, and crop rotation

● Climate change and water scarcity: Limited amount of water available for irrigation.  Viwandani, like many other urban areas, is vulnerable to the impacts of climate change, including erratic rainfall patterns and water scarcity. These climatic conditions pose challenges for urban farming, particularly in maintaining adequate water supply for irrigation. To address this, the program focused on water conservation and management strategies such as rainwater harvesting and water recycling (kitchen water and bathing water). By implementing these measures, the program has reduced water wastage and ensured efficient water use in urban farms.

● Community Engagement and Ownership: Initially, there was resistance and scepticism among some community members regarding the effectiveness and long-term sustainability of the program. To overcome this challenge, the program emphasised community engagement and participation. Regular community meetings, dialogue sessions, and participatory decision-making processes were conducted to involve the community in program planning and implementation. By fostering a sense of ownership and active participation, the program gained community support and commitment, leading to the success and sustainability of the urban farms. 

Report recommendations 

Scaling Up and Replication: Given the success and impact of the program in Viwandani, it is recommended to consider scaling up the initiative to other sub-villages of Viwandani informal settlements within the region. This could be achieved through collaboration and continuity of partnership and supporting other local organisations with similar objectives and goals to replicate the program’s model and share best practices. By expanding the program’s reach, more communities can benefit from permaculture education and information, sustainable urban farming practices, improving food security and promoting resilience. 

Using all available space to produce a harvest

Strengthening Partnerships: Continual collaboration with local organisations, government agencies and donors is essential to ensure the availability of necessary resources and support. Strengthening existing partnerships and establishing new ones will enhance the program’s capacity to overcome challenges related to resource constraints, access to inputs, and funding. This could be achieved through regular coordination meetings, joint fundraising efforts and knowledge-sharing platforms. 

Training and Capacity Building: Continuous training and capacity-building programs for farmers and community members should be prioritised. These programs should focus on advanced permaculture techniques, composting, organic pest management, and soil conservation. Providing access to training resources, workshops, and mentoring will ensure that farmers have the necessary skills and knowledge to maintain productive and sustainable urban farms. 

Restoring fertility in under utilised spaces

Education and Awareness: Continued efforts to raise awareness about the importance of sustainable agriculture and environmental conservation should be carried out. This could involve conducting educational campaigns in schools, organizing community events, and disseminating information through various media channels. By educating the broader community about the benefits and practices of permaculture, the program can encourage more individuals to adopt sustainable farming methods and contribute to a healthier and greener environment. 

Monitoring and Evaluation: Implementing a robust monitoring and evaluation system is crucial for tracking the program’s progress, identifying areas for improvement, and measuring its impact. Regular assessments of the urban farms’ productivity, environmental sustainability, and community well-being will provide valuable feedback to inform program adjustments and ensure its long-term success.

The way forward 

The way forward for the Rafiki Urban Farming program in Viwandani Informal Settlement involves a strategic approach to sustain and expand the program’s impact.

Consolidate and Strengthen Existing Farms: It is crucial to ensure the continued success and productivity of established urban farms. This involves providing ongoing support to farmers, including access to resources, technical guidance and mentorship. Regular monitoring and evaluation should be conducted to identify areas for improvement and provide targeted assistance where needed. By consolidating the existing farms, the program can maintain its sustainability and maximise its impact. 

Expand the Program’s Reach: Building on the success achieved in Viwandani, the program should aim to expand its reach to other informal settlements within the region. This can be done by conducting community needs assessments and identifying potential partner organizations or community leaders who can champion the program in new locations. Engaging with local stakeholders and tailoring the program to meet the specific needs and challenges of each community will be crucial for successful replication and expansion. 

Foster Knowledge Exchange and Networking: Creating platforms for knowledge exchange and networking among farmers, experts, and stakeholders is essential for continuous learning and innovation. This can be achieved through regular community meetings, workshops, and farmer-to-farmer exchanges. Encouraging the formation of networks or associations among urban farmers will facilitate the sharing of best practices, challenges, and solutions, fostering a supportive and collaborative environment. 

Urban farming between buildings and on rooftops

Enhance Value Addition and Market Access: Exploring opportunities for value addition and market access can contribute to the economic sustainability of the program and the farmers involved. This can involve training farmers in post-harvest handling techniques, food processing, and marketing strategies. Collaborating with local markets, restaurants, or food cooperatives to establish direct links between farmers and consumers will ensure fair and sustainable trade relationships. 

Secure Long-term Funding: Securing adequate and sustainable funding is crucial to sustain the program’s activities and ensure its long-term impact. The program should explore diverse funding sources, including government grants, corporate social responsibility initiatives, philanthropic organisations, and crowdfunding platforms. Developing a comprehensive fundraising strategy and cultivating partnerships with donors and investors who share the program’s vision will provide the financial stability needed to continue and expand the program

Many thanks to the Rafiki Community-Based Organisation for this report. . 

All contributions to the Permafund are warmly welcomed to support permaculture environmental and education projects in Australia and around the world. Gifts, regular tithes and donations to the Permafund over $2.00 are tax deductible in Australia and can be made here. Many thanks.

For more information please contact

2023 Permafund Grant Round

2023 Permafund Grant Round

Permaculture Australia’s Permafund team sends a huge thankyou to all of the people and organisations who donate to Permafund and fundraise to support its small grants program.

Because of this generosity and fundraising, the Permafund 2023 Grant Round was launched in November 2022 offering grants of AU $2,000.  

A large number of applications were received from community organisations in Australia and overseas, 

The Permafund assessment team is pleased to announce that grants have been awarded to these nine applicants to support their projects. The successful applicants are:

Anam Cara House, Colac- Australia

Using permaculture design a system of raised wicking garden beds will  be constructed in  the hospice grounds for healthy food production. Garden maintenance will provide a community activity and social experience for people with a chronic life limiting illness The fresh food produced will supply the hospice  kitchen. 

Aranya Agricultural Alternatives – India

Supporting indigenous seed varieties through Permaculture practices in Patha Sngapur tribal village, the project will promote and reintroduce indigenous seed varieties, seed saving, culinary traditions, seed sovereignty and seed freedom. It will also promote soil health through composting and Biochar.

Earthcare Permaculture- Ghana

This project in Adzokoe-Peki, Ghana, involves planting 500 coconut and citrus trees and installing a rainwater collection system for treecare and other community use. The project will help reduce soil erosion, provide food for the community  and provide an income source for the youth who will be involved in the tree planting.  

Farming & Health Organisation (FHE) – Kakuma Refugee Camp, Kenya

A Permaculture Design Course will be conducted by Farming and Health Education, in Kakuma refugee camp. Permaculture knowledge gained through the course will help to restore the environment and improve refugees’ nutrition and food security. The goal is to build the capacity and strengthen the development of the community in the camp. 

Kajulu Hills Ecovillages – Kenya 

Kajulu Hills Ecovillage residents intend to work with 20 grandmothers in the local district to establish intensive vegetable gardens, watered by a clay pot system. This project has become urgent as the effects of climate change are being greatly felt as crops are not receiving adequate rainfall and food shortage is already being felt by many. This project will benefit approximately 100 individuals from the households of the women and be a demonstration for the community.

Promotion of clay pots for grandmothers and physically challenged gardeners  

Kitgum Permaculture Practitioners Assoc. – Uganda

Permaculture training for the deaf community will be provided by a specialist deaf teacher in Kitgum, Uganda. The project will benefit the community by sharing knowledge of permaculture and regenerative farming methods. Planting fruit trees and kitchen gardens will improve food security & economic independence in the deaf community by selling the surplus produced.

Mkulima Sasa Regenerative Agriculture (MSRA) – Kenya

The project in Siyaya, Kenya will train 50 people in Syntropic Agroforestry and assist  the establishment of demonstration farms at two public schools and within the local area. Community members, school staff and pupils will all be involved in the project.

Rafiki Community Organisation- Kenya

Rafiki aims to empower and educate urban slum communities in Viwandani, Nairobi about urban farming techniques to boost food production and adapt to climate change. Rafiki’s urban farm, which demonstrates a simple and cheap way of farming in the slums, will be expanded to increase the supply of organic and affordable indigenous crops to the Viwandani residents. Rafiki will train community members in simple urban farming methods to increase yields from their small kitchen or home gardens and show how to utilise small vacant spaces in the area.

Union of Women for Rural and Community Development (UFEDERCO) – Democratic Republic Congo 

Malnutrition in children is the main concern in the Uvira Rd. area of South Kivu in Democratic Republic Congo, so UFEDERCO’s project is to establish 6 school gardens within their community. The gardens will help to feed the school children and at the same time will be used to collect seeds to be distributed locally. Farmers from associations, schools and  community groups will be selected by UFEDERCO to act as seed producers. They will be organised and trained to become professional seed farmers, able to meet  the demand of local producers.

The Permafund thanks all of the 2023 grant round applicants and welcomes applications when the next grant round opens.

As grant recipient organisations send through their project updates and completion reports their stories are shared In Permafund News through Permaculture Australia’s website, newsletter  and socials.

The response to this grant round has once again shown that globally there are so many community organisations seeking solutions for the multiple challenges they are facing, Those already with a permaculture qualifications are reaching out to Permafund for support so they can assist their communities with practical permaculture projects, sometimes in combination with teaching and demonstrating traditional, organic, syntropic and regenerative agriculture methods, 

Some applicant organisations work with the most marginalised people in their community and  they ask for down to earth help to improve food security to restore good health & livelihoods.  Most organisations are keen to receive more information about permaculture to share with others of all ages and circumstances. 

In the past 10 years Permafund grants have funded 73 projects in 17 countries including Australia, supporting a wide range of projects including environment restoration, reforestation, increased biodiversity, soil improvement, water management, permaculture education, renewable energy systems, regenerative agriculture, seed sovereignty, food security and adaptation for climate change.

Fundraising for Permafund’s next grant round is ongoing. If you may be planning an event or activity that could contribute funds to the Permafund that would be fabulous. Assistance and collaborations are most welcome so please contact us at  We’d love to hear from you. 

Gifts to Permafund can be made here and are warmly welcomed.  Amounts of $2.00 or more are tax deductible in Australia, Donations are shared with grateful grant recipients who put the funds to work in a wide variety of creative and effective projects.

For more information please contact

2023 Permafund grant round closes & gift appeal opens

2023 Permafund grant round closes & gift appeal opens

Applications are now closed for the 2023 Permafund grant round. Submissions have been received from organisations in Australia and countries around the world including The Philippines, Nepal, India, New Zealand, Kenya, Zimbabwe, Ghana, Uganda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Successful applicants will be informed in March 2023.

At this giving time of year, a gift to the Permafund will help support the many organisations who have applied for funds for their various projects. For example, 

Permafund Chair John Champagne explains  “We’ve received many more applications than we have funds available for which demonstrates the global need that Permaculture inspired projects constantly face.”

“We’ve started a conversation about privilege in and around permaculture circles lately and communities coming together to raise funds for Permafund offer us all an opportunity to assist those in greatest need and manifest our Third Ethic of Fair Share.”

Fundraisers such as open gardens and community events to support Permafund’s micro grant program are a wonderful help and are very much appreciated.

All gifts, tithes and donations made by individuals and businesses to the Permafund that are over $2 are tax deductible in Australia and are warmly welcomed.  

Contributions to the Permafund can be made here.  Many thanks. 

For more information and to share fundraising ideas for Permafund please contact

Permafund grant supports sustainable agriculture training for 50 women farmers in India

Permafund grant supports sustainable agriculture training for 50 women farmers in India

The Panchayat Raj Movement (PRM) was founded in India in1989 by a group of youth activists with the vision to create a society where every human being can live in peace, harmony and respect with each other. They aim to connect various grassroots groups of different backgrounds to form an integrated community.

Over the course of 6 months two staff members from PRM, with the help of 15 volunteers, facilitated the training of 50 farmers from 10 different villages- Aiyavayal, Kurunchampatti, Shanthinipatti, Kadiyapatti, Veerakudi, Kangampatti, Perampur, Surundampatti, Muttampatti and Palaiyaveerakudi.

The initial session was held at the PRM Field Office run by Mrs. Vijaya, a local organic farmer, teaching permaculture skills with a focus on introducing mixed crops into agriculture, digging small ditches for rainwater harvesting, growing herbal plants to make pest repellents and compost making with agriculture waste and promoting perennial crops. The participants gained hands-on experience in making compost, natural pest repellents and setting up worm farms.

The development of better and more affordable pump systems has seen a steady increase in the groundwater consumption in the south of India. The ancient technique of digging ditches for rain water harvesting was demonstrated and is reviving the area immensely. 

Other monoculture farmers have taken an interest in the project and have since experimented with more sustainable ways of mixed farming and natural fertilisation of their crops.  

Now over 150 acres of land have been planted out using permaculture techniques. Soil and water conservation structures are being made and only organic inputs were used.  500 to 750kg of produce was harvested and up to 350 farmers in 10 villages are being made aware of permaculture techniques for land regeneration. 

In addition to this, there was another training day offered by Mrs. Sumathi to teach 30 women how to value add to their millet products. Also, 5 seed banks were established over the course of the project. The monsoon rains were better than expected and allowed the farmers to earn an income from their farming activities. The project achieved its goal and created a larger impact than anticipated. 

Fund-raising activities, donations, tithes and pledges to Permaculture Australia’s Permafund are warmly welcomed and are supporting community projects like this in Australia, Asia, Africa and the Pacific.  One off or recurring tax-deductible donations to Permafund can be made here.  Many thanks.

For more information please contact

Felix Leibelt – Permafund Team

Panchayat Raj Movement (PRM)

Permafund in Action – Mindanao in the Phillipines

Permafund in Action – Mindanao in the Phillipines

Elmer Sayre is a permie on the island of Mindanao in the Phillipines . His application for WAND (Water, Agroforestry, Nutrition and Development Foundation) secured a $2000 grant to teach two PDCs, and also raise thousands of seedlings with farmers so they can grow timber and food as well as sustain a community seed bank.
To support the application, Elmer supplied evidence of previous projects which included Ecosan – a composting toilet, a tree planting project (with accompanying manual), worm composting, vegetable growing and water conservation.
Elmer also gave us a long and in-depth talk on WAND’s work and context which began as a routine background-check interview over Zoom. Mindanao has about the same population as Australia, but as its population is 70 times denser the farming strategies are different.

Elmer explains:
“The farming situation in our area is small farms that we need to develop into a diverse system utilising local inputs. The government might promote tree planting but the farmers say ‘How can we get income from that?’ The smaller ones want short-term income. So we say, you plant vegetables, plant bananas and in nine months you have a harvest, root crops in seven months you can harvest, green leafy vegetables in two or free weeks. Increasing their economic base. Pigs, free-range chickens, they don’t grow big like commercial ones but they are okay”.
The plan is to grow trees for fruit, timber, and seed as well as foods including bananas, sweet potato, and cassava. With the two PDC trainings, the goal is to have an exponential increase in food production as farmers will be using heirloom and open-pollinated varieties. Fertility will come from vermicompost, composted humanure, goat poo, and biochar from rice hulls.
Existing practices will be first be documented and photographed, then compared with post- project snapshots for evaluation. Results will be shared with other Permafund projects.

Who Gives a Crap? Permafund does …

Who Gives a Crap? Permafund does …

Doing our daily business, we might not think about it much using our so-called sophisticated water closets which cost thousands of dollars to maintain and waste millions of litres of fresh water daily.

People in a refugee camp aren’t that lucky. Doing their business can often be very dangerous, especially for women. The pollution created is also a big problem and so are unsanitary toilet compounds that can’t deal with the volume. There are no pipes or costly sewer systems.

Jay Abraham from Biologic Design in the UK has coined the phrase ‘tree bog’ for the toilet system that simply uses an old essential habit that people in his native England used daily. As he describes ‘People used to do their business in a bucket in a closet and they would have a separate bucket of soil and sprinkle it over each time a deposit was made. It kept the smell away.”

Tree bog infographic by Andrew Jeeves (Regrarians)

The way the tree bog works is quite similar. Its floor is built up high, at least 1.5 metres above ground level.  The space under the floor is enclosed by 2 layers of wire mesh filled with carbon material (hay, straw, dry grasses) to allow air flow, absorb excess nitrogen and provide a visual barrier. The human waste is covered with sawdust, ash or soil and breaks down, feeding the surrounding area that’s planted out with trees, grasses and ground covers.  In less than a year there are fast growing trees & fruits such as papaya to pick plus shade and biomass to refill the wire mesh carbon wall.

Dense planting surrounds the base

For 30 years Jay has been using his tree bog invention on his own property, fine tuning it to be shared with the world. He’s supported many projects that are building the toilets in refugee camps.

Permafund has recently funded a tree bog in the Kakuma Refugee Camp in Kenya. Established in 1990, the camp has some 60 000 inhabitants with many living there in limbo for years and years.  

Since then, Marcelin Munga from Food & Health Education (FHE) in Kakuma has attracted more funding to build another tree bog. Members of the Permafund team were invited to tune into a live Zoom workshop with Jay Abraham beamed in from the UK.  Marcelin hosted some 20 people from the compound including 3 cooks and 2 educators and a number of mothers with their babies, eager to start building their own tree bog. The workshop members used tools previously purchased with the Permafund grant.

There were some technical difficulties with the Zoom, but we got see the site and meet the group. Jay gave a report from another camp where one of the tree bog toilets had caught the attention of UNHCR. They inspected it with a negative attitude and the intention to knock it down but instead left impressed and gave the tree bog their tick of approval.

Donations made to Permaculture Australia’s Permafund that are over $2,00 are tax deductible in Australia and are supporting the grant program that assists organisations like Farm and Health Education to make a significant, practical difference in their community through the application of permaculture design principles and ethics.

‘’There is no such thing as waste’’

Charlie McGee of Formidable Vegetable

Article by Felix Leibelt of the Permafund team

For more information please contact