The concept of the Evergreen Market Garden is to reintroduce farming of profitable crops while protecting the land from the hazards of soil-erosion, managing organic soil fertility and maximising productivity through careful planning of crop varieties. The programme encompasses the acquisition and fencing of an acre of land specifically selected to be close to a water source and the land being ‘stepped’ to prevent soil erosion, and fertilised organically. Housing is provided for the caretaker and his family, together with sheds/pens for goats and cows. The crops comprise passion fruit, matooke (a local form of banana), elephant grass as fodder for the animals and, of course, coffee. These crops have been selected for their ease of cultivation, their proven ability to co-exist and, particularly, as there is a ready market in the nearby town of Mbale for each of them.
The animals provide fertiliser for the soil, which is enhanced by the nutrient-rich husks discarded from coffee production available from a programme with which Evergreen is associated in the immediate area (again, please see the Coffee Roasting description). The animals also produce offspring and milk that can be sold.
The land was bought, fenced and cleared in 2019 and prepared and planted in 2020. From 2021 it will become self-sustaining and from 2022 will continue to provide an income for those engaged on it but will also return a profit, equal to the annual costs of the Evergreen Nursery School.
Eventually, it is intended that the Market Garden will become the nucleus of an Agricultural Vocational Training facility aiming to enable the reintroduction of farming of profitable crops throughout the Wanale Ridge.