Meeting a particular permaculture farm model
As soon as we arrived in Kampala, the capital of Uganda, we were struck by the layout of the buildings. The city spreads over several hills. From afar, two colors dominate, the red tile of the buildings and the green of the gardens. In the business district, the facades, although multi-story, remain human-sized. The agitation of the city is not too oppressive. Nevertheless, getting around with Uyo in the middle of the traffic jams is not a simple formality.
After spending a few days discovering the Lytefire technology (cf. Focus entrepreneurs – A professional solar oven, Lytefire) we have an appointment with Isaac.
Isaac is the co-founder of Wage Farm and Wage Spices. We got in touch while researching permaculture initiatives in the country. We are not far from his home. We have just turned left, on a small gravel road. After passing the school, we see the Wage sign on a house. We are there!
A small blow of klaxon and Shadia, her companion, opens the gate to us. Isaac arrives after her, all smiling, to welcome us. We install Uyo in the garden, in the shade of the mango tree. We are invited to visit the house. The main entrance leads directly into Wage’s office. Everything is in order, the 5S method invented by Toyota is very well implemented here. On the wall are displayed his diplomas and achievements. The back room is dedicated to the production of spices. The shelf on the left contains the packages and the one on the right, the spices freshly ground by the electric blender at the end of the table. The rest of the house is dedicated to their private life with a kitchen, two bedrooms and two bathrooms.
The story of Wage
We take our seats in front of Isaac sitting behind his desk. Shadia serves us each a cup of their turmeric tea. It is one of their star products. We enjoy the delicious beverage while listening carefully to the story of Wage. The name comes from Women And Girls Empowerment.
Wage is above all a great adventure. The small business is based on the values of sharing. Sharing knowledge, sharing goods and sharing profits. It is important that each person involved is rightly valued for their work.
Isaac had the chance to go to school thanks to his mother. By selling the vegetables from her small garden, she was able to pay her children’s school fees. Thus, Isaac was able to express his potential and get a scholarship to study agro-forestry at a renowned university in Kampala.
Isaac wants to work primarily with women. He understood from an early age that women invest in their children’s future, their education and the life of the house.
Clearly, Isaac is full of positive energy, undertaking many inspiring projects. When he speaks, he exudes passion. So much so that it becomes contagious and motivating.
Through his company, he trains women to create their own permaculture micro-farm. As usual, they grow fruits and vegetables to feed their families. The novelty is that a small part of the land is dedicated to the production of spices to generate an income. Wage spices buys all the spice production, transforms it and sells it.
Under the name Wage farm, Isaac is also a consultant. He brings his permaculture knowledge to farmers who want to rethink the farm model. He is currently working with the government on a program to create permaculture micro-farms for refugees.
Finally, he also started a schooling program for the children of Jinja thanks to his acquaintances met in the US and his mother who is a school director.
Discover Wage in action through our video (turn on English subtitles)
The life in Wage
We have been staying with Isaac and Shadia for several days. We discovered that we had a lot in common and became friends.
We wake up slowly every day. The first rays of sunlight filter through the mosquito net of the tent. The weather is mild at the end of the rainy season in Uganda. The slight morning chill encourages us to stay a few minutes longer under the comforter. But we know that like every morning, a good breakfast is waiting for us. Isaac and Shadia have taken the habit of waiting for us to share it together. The Tumeric Tea, their famous tea recipe that we love, is already ready on the table. We take care of the coffee for everyone.
The meals are always a great moment of sharing. We cook everyday good dishes, so our host can discover recipes from our home country. Of course, we take advantage of the spices from the farm to season them. Isaac and Shadia make us discover their special recipe of rice with curry and vegetables. The result is amazing. We also taste with appetite their “magic chicken”, home made chicken fritters. One evening, they cook us matoke aka plantain with a little peanut sauce. Shadia taught us how to cook cassava and chapatis and Issac how to cut sugar cane.
At the end of this article, we share some delicious recipes that we have cooked or discovered here.
Every day we learn more about plants and their multiple health benefits. Moringa is a plant with many healing properties. The African Plum tree is also very well known for its benefits on the prostate. Today, overexploited by pharmaceutical groups, this new vulnerable plant must be protected. Isaac does not hesitate to speak out in its defense.
The art of making spices
We also learn a lot about spices and participate in their processing. Wage receives the spices harvested and dried by the partner farms. By hand, keeping contact with the product, we sorted the spices to remove impurities. Then, we roasted them, then ground them.
We mixed the spices to make and test the latest recipe developed by Issac: Fish Masala. This is what we will cook tonight to test the new product and approve the recipe.
An exceptionnal encounter
When we set foot in Wage we hoped to meet some of the permaculture actors in Uganda. We did not expect such an inspiring and friendly encounter. In addition to sharing knowledge and opinions, we made strong connections.
Isaac has so much passion for life, sharing and love for his fellow man. He makes sure that his activity has meaning, that it helps to build a better world and that it improves the lives of the people who join the adventure.
It was an exceptional meeting. Isaac and Shadia, welcomed us as members of their family. We shared a lot. Our common passion for cooking and discovering new dishes brought us together. Like them, we like to be close to nature. We also share the same vision of the world to make it more sustainable.
After a week spent together, the goodbyes were not easy. We miss Isaac, Shadia and Junior, their son.
Recipes to try at home
Vegetable rice (For 4 persons)
- 2 large onions
- 4 carrots
- 2 green peppers
- 200g of peas
- 2 tablespoons of curry powder
- 300g of rice
- 900mL of water
- Brown the chopped onions in an oiled pan.
- When the onions are caramelized, add the diced tomatoes.
- Cook over medium heat until you have a sauce.
- Add the diced carrots and peppers and spices to the pan and cook for 5 minutes.
- Add the rice, peas and water, cover and simmer for 30min, stirring occasionally.
Fish Massala (For 4 persons)
INGREDIENTS FOR THE FISH:
- 500g of white fish
- 4 tablespoons of olive oil
- 2 teaspoon of Fish Massala spices
- salt and pepper
INGREDIENTS FOR THE SAUCE:
- 2 tablespoons of olive oil
- 2 large onions
- 2 eggplants
- 6 tomatoes
- 2 cloves of garlic
- Fresh ginger
- 3 teaspoons of Fish Massala spices
- 1 glass of water
- Cut the white fish into small cubes and transfer them to a large bowl.
- Add the oil and spices until the fish is well coated.
- Cover and let marinate in a cool place while doing the sauce.
- Chop the onions, then brown them in an oiled pan.
- When the onions are well colored, add the diced tomatoes.
- Simmer until you have a tomato sauce.
- Then add the diced eggplant, finely chopped garlic and ginger, spices and water.
- Simmer over low heat, with a lid, until the eggplants are melting.
- Add the fish pieces and simmer for another 5 to 10 minutes.
- Serve hot, with rice!
Steak for vegetarian burger (For 4 persons)
- 1 beetroot
- 1 carrot
- 1 onion
- 1 egg
- 2 tablespoons of olive oil
- 2 tablespoons of corn flour (Maizena)
- 3 tablespoons of wheat flour
- 1 teaspoon of Beef Massala spices
- Fresh ginger
- Salt & pepper
- Shred the beetroot and carrot, finely chop the onion and mix in a bowl.
- Add the egg, olive oil, spices and flours and mix it all together. The mixture is still very sticky so that the burger is not too dry.
- In an oiled pan, place the mixture in the shape and size you want for your steak.
- Cook over medium heat for 5 minutes on each side. The steak should be golden brown on the outside.
- You can serve the steak in a burger between a slice of cheese, tomato, lettuce and why not some caramelized onions (brown the onions in an oiled pan and add a tablespoon of honey at the last moment, then remove from the heat).
BON APPETIT !