By Sven Verwiel | Sven shares his first encounter with Organix products. He gives an elaborate account of his experience and observations on a range of products for his communal work in Turkana and other parts of Kenya.

With a strong background in fish farming, I have always secretly dreaded the amount of chemistry needed when looking into medications, feeds, and water quality – it adds a huge amount of research and product awareness. Therefore, I have always preferred the cleaner organic approach – look after your fish, make sure they are never stressed, and they will in turn grow well and provide you with a superior quality of produce. But then I ventured into agriculture and forestry – and that’s where everything became even more complex – dealing with viruses, diseases, poor soils, hundreds if not thousands of species of plants, fungal networks, insect infestations, and many more complexities that the terrestrial landscape has intrinsically built into itself.

Again, the natural way was always more encouraging- work with nature rather than against it, use the forest as your model, etc etc etc. It took nearly 7 years of mastering the following: composting, vermiculite, mulching, liquid manure mixes, EM, seaweed extracts, neem and chillie concoctions, as well as intercropping and crop rotation before I stumbled into THE one stop shop.

This one stop shop isn’t just any one stop shop… For me and so many other keen agro-ecology enthusiasts, it’s THE East African DUKA “la choice premiere”. Meeting the Organix team, led by Aasit Shah, was no coincidence. My good fishing buddy Arjun forced me to come to a meeting at their headquarters in Nairobi. Little did I know, Aasit and my uncle Sput had known each other for nearly twenty years, and slowly I discovered that many more had heard of him too. Arjun, in case you’re reading this, thank you very much for the introduction. I am forever grateful.

Arjun (L) and Sven (R) at the Barefoot Soulution’s Nakukulas demonstration site in Turkana County

Let me dive into a little more detail –the five year hydrogel called Absorber blew me away when we first sat down to meet at their headquarters in Nairobi. Aasit poured a few grams into a cup filled with water. By the time he explained its function and composition, the cup of water had turned into a gel – a gel that can last up to five years in the soil and have no harmful effect on anything underground. And that was just the beginning. He then explained its application on trees, vegetable seedlings, and on lawns. He also explained it unique ability to reduce irrigation frequency by up to 50%, a key feature when farming or tree planting in very dry areas like Turkana, Ukambani, and 75% of Kenya’s ASAL’s. We now use absorber everywhere and incorporate it into our garden and farm designs. It is absolutely brilliant!

Organix products have certainly been an eye opener for me and my team. Not only are we using them on our dry land demo farms in Turkana, but also in other regions of Kenya. The truth is, they can and should be used everywhere. I mentioned earlier about chemistry being overwhelming when it comes to the millions of products out there that either treat a certain disease or improve certain soil deficiencies to wiping out weeds or enhancing foliar growth rates. Rest assured, the range of products Organix has created are easy to use, safe, easy to understand, and most importantly – effective. Moreover, Aasit has spent the last twenty years compiling his list of ingredients and products and taken the chemistry out of the equation – with an easy-to-follow crop guide on how to use each product as well as simplified into laymen’s terms what each product does! PHFEEEW

Four other products have become essential for us too; Asilee, Earthlee, Nhance and Achook.

Asilee is an organic soil conditioner. It contains an amazing 18 natural, non synthetic ingredients: neem, pongamia, mahwah, castor, mangium, shea, sal, turmeric, rock phosphate, cashew, magnesium ore, silica, sesame, ginger, mustard, marigold, palm, and soya… So take all those permaculture and IPM techniques and combine them into ONE bad ass mix that improves the following: soil structure, water holding capacity, aeration, and nutrient availability, as well as enhanced bacterial activity. And the best part is that it is cheap, as low as 85ksh per kilo if bought in bulk. It can be incorporated into the soil at a rate of 250kg to 750 kg per hectare when prepping the land, and afterward be applied as a top dressing of 200 grams per square meter, especially on fruit tree orchards, intensive vegetable fields, as well as in forestry blocks. Lastly, Asilee can be used in combination with synthetic fertilizers and can even be bought in pellet form to suit the modern day machinery most large scale farmers operate with.

Earthlee also blew me away for one kg of Earthlee can contain as much humate content as 5 tons of compost…. Applied at a rate of 40 grams per square meter, one kg will service lots of plants – trust me. We have even started adding small amounts into our compost piles! Finally a concentrated, eco friendly humate powder available in small amounts like their 200 gram sachets for the small scale or home gardener, or up to 25kg bags for the commercial farmer.

After using Asilee and Earthlee, I hardly use manure nowadays, as it can contains so much unwanted seed. Also, manure can often be very variable in terms of quality. It is usually too fresh or too dry, hardly ever absolutely perfect for application. The combo of products also means I can use less compost, which can free up a lot of time on the farm’s weekly schedule as compost making and turning takes time.

PART TWO continues next week. Svell delves into the use of other products on demo sites that are mainly situated in dry, hardship areas in an effort to revamp food production

The Author is Director & Founder of Barefoot Soulutions which works with communities, clients and the environment to restore functional landscapes and build sustainable food systems that mimic natural patterns. Email: Sven.barefoot@gmail.com