Seedballs present a simple but potentially very effective method of tree-planting and rewilding. Four Rotary clubs in D1260, Barton le Clay, Brookman’s Park, Baldock and Luton Someries are collaborating with 3 Kenyan clubs, Bungoma, Kakamega and Voi, as well as two UK NGOs, Red Rubber Ball and SGG in a pilot project to evaluate the viability and sustainability of this seedball method.
The project is using seedballs which are being produced by SeedballsKenya, who are a local industry based in Nairobi. Further details about this enterprise can be found at www.seedballskenya.com
In Western Kenya
The project is establishing a number of demonstration/training areas for smallholder farmers in a few locations based on the use of two indigenous trees. These trees, namely Sesbania sesban and Dombeya torrida, have been selected as they are suitable for the local environment in an agroforestry system that combines trees with crops. Sesbania has multiple uses including shade provision, livestock feed, green manure, mulch, soil erosion control and provision of firewood and Dombeya can be used for honey production. Planting will involve the use of biochar coated seed designed to improve germination and viability. The project will initially be a pilot scheme to be monitored by local farmers and Rotarians with a view to expansion when and if successful.
Two UK-based NGOs working in Kenya will be involved in a supporting role, Sustainable Global Gardens who have experience in agro-forestry in this area and Red Rubber Ball who have access to land for the demonstrations. Both have experience of Western Kenya having worked with farmers and Rotary Clubs in the area
The project seeks to involve four clubs, two from D1260 (Barton le Clay and Brookman’s Park) and two in Western Kenya (Kakamega and Bungoma), who will be assist in monitoring and evaluation of the project.
Click here for a recent progress report from Bungoma Rotary Club.
Click here for a report from one of the farmer groups in Busia
In Southeast Kenya
A sister project involving RC Baldock and RC Luton Someries will establish another tree planting project Kenya in conjunction with the Rotary club of Voi. This is a drier area adjoining Tsavo National Park a highly degraded area using Acacia species. This project will be undertaken and support other environmental activities of RC Voi.
The D1260 clubs together with the Kenyan clubs and NGOs involved will share lessons and experiences with the intention of further expansion.
Biochar coated seed balls
Seedballs Kenya is a collaborative initiative between two companies Chardust Limited and Cookswell Jikos. Chardust has pioneered a method of mass producing seedballs for low cost and efficient reintroduction of trees and grass species into degraded areas.
Seedballs are a special blend of charcoal dust, nutrients and binders sourced from long dead acacia trees that are now giving life to a whole new generation of forests thanks to more than 35 combined years of Kenyan charcoal industry expertise from Chardust and Cookswell Jikos.
The biochar coating of the ball helps protect the seed within from predators such as rodents and insects, dehydration, and extremes of temperature. When wet, the seedball will help retain and prolong a moist environment around the seed to encourage germination. At this time the char (charcoal powder) and other components of the seedball will offer an initial nutritious boost.
Many of the seedballs on offer at SeedballsKenya are acacia species which are particularly suitable for dryland and marginal farming areas which may be subject to desertification when overgrazed. Such seedballs should be of interest to those Rotary clubs with overseas projects in those locations. In the more humid areas of Western Kenya, the bush species Sesbania sesban is much more appropriate to farmer needs. Click here for more detailed information about this species.