Kenyan Women's Community Sustainable Farming (CSF) Project: Cultivation of Mwangani (Cleome gynandra)

Project Overview

Project Type: Farmer/Rancher
Funds awarded in 2009: $17,286.50
Projected End Date: 12/31/2011
Region: North Central
State: Minnesota
Project Coordinator:

Annual Reports


  • Vegetables: cabbages


  • Crop Production: cover crops, intercropping
  • Education and Training: demonstration, display, focus group
  • Pest Management: prevention
  • Production Systems: organic agriculture, permaculture
  • Sustainable Communities: ethnic differences/cultural and demographic change, leadership development, local and regional food systems, partnerships, urban agriculture, employment opportunities, sustainability measures

    Proposal summary:

    In 2010 we purpose to plant, harvest and market Mwangani (Clemone Gynandra) exclusively. Seeds will be donated by Kenyan families. This plant grows well in full sun during warm season and prefers sandy loamy soil rich in organic matter and decomposed manure. Mwangani is an erect annual herb usually 0.5–1.0m tall, sparsely hairy main stem with much branched palmate compound leaves with 3-5 leaflets. It bears flowers with white or pink petals and measure 1-2.5cm in diameter. Planting will occur the second week of May and sown in mixture of 1 part seed to 10 parts dry soil, broadcast in raised beds. Germination is uneven thus in 3 weeks thinning is essential to create spacing of 15cm between plants. Mwangani grows quickly when watered 2-3 times/week and weeding between plants is required. First harvest is approximately 6 weeks after planting, mid June, and repeated every two weeks for a total of 4 harvests. Another new crop will be planted in first week of August with an additional 3 harvests. When left to flower, Mwangani produces elongated capsules which contain many seeds measuring 1.0-1.5mm. The capsules ripen and dry and if left unpicked, they will release seed for the next season. The capsules may be picked and stored for future planting. A one-half acre of land will be donated by IOC for project use, incidentally located adjacent to the current community garden site. Although it is non-tillable, due to buried asphalt debris under the top soil, we propose to build elevated beds for additional crop utilization thus optimizing land productivity. Use of small bobcat is required to create six raised beds. Tom Kackman will design and construct the water station consisting of: buried pex tubing, six main spickets, sprinklers and hoses. Roseline Ongondi will organize the labor team for the preparing, planting, weeding and harvesting. She and two other Kenyan women will be team leads and responsible for 2 raised beds each from beginning to end of harvest. Kenyan women typically work in teams of 3-5 and systematically work the crops. Based on 2009 harvest of Mwangani, approximately 700 hours (117 hours/bed) of labor will be needed to maintain the 0.5 acre. Each team will be paid a base wage computed by allotted hours. Although this project is focused on Kenyan Women, Charles Karuku will be instrumental in the planning and organizing of the project as a primary farmer. His experience will be instrumental particularly in preservation of agricultural knowledge and promoting biocultural diversity. His respect and influence in the Kenyan community will promote further support while providing economic opportunities for other immigrants through the donated use of the land. Roseline Ongondi and Elizabeth Kackman will organize, market and sell the crops. Ms. Ongondi will work directly through the Kenyan Community Organization and the Farmers Market and Ms. Kackman will organize the outreach and food demos for the Annual Community Garden Parade and VNFC. Ms. Kackman will collaborate with VNFC fresh foods Manager Orlando Haripal in marketing and selling Mwangani to the local community. Research will begin this 2009 through interviews within the Kenyan community and literature reviews of previous findings.

    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.