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October 2011 Update: Green Beat Arrives in the DRC

August 1st, 2013

Xavier Fux and Melanie Hogan, otherwise known as Green Beat, have a passion for protecting the environment. This dedication led them to spend five weeks living in rural central Africa, far from their home in Mexico. There, they would contribute to the Zerofootprint Foundation?s Pygmy Farming Project.

In an effort to teach the Buyungule Pygmy community of South Kivu sustainable farming techniques, Xavier and Melanie would live for a month teaching this community all they knew about permaculture.

Permaculture is an agricultural method where fields are planted with multiple crops, emulating the symbiotic relationships found in nature. This contrasts with traditional agriculture, where huge fields contain only a single crop.

Permaculture is a more sustainable way to farm because of the cooperation between the various plant species. One might excel at fixing nitrogen in the soil, reducing the need for expensive and resource-intensive fertilizer; another might be able to store vast quantities of water, making extensive irrigation unnecessary. Not only can this make a healthy and bountiful harvest easier, but also it also virtually eliminates farm waste and makes the farm completely self-sustainable.

On October 9, Xavier and Melanie landed in Rwanda, where they were greeted by Dominique Bikaba, our on-the-ground contact at Strong Roots Congo. He would escort them across the border.

Bukavu, with a population of about 250,000, is the capital of the Congolese province of South Kivu. It serves as the urban hub for the area and is home to the Swedish Mission ? Xavier and Melanie?s home for the next month.

With only a few days before they were scheduled to travel to work with the Buyungule Pygmy community, they started to plan out their time. They had to make the most of the first week, as they would be leaving for a two-week permaculture course in Ethiopia before returning to South Kivu afterward.

Xavier, with his experience in green design, came up with ideas for simple but permanent sustainable farming. It would work, but there was one key problem ? while leasing the land for the pygmies had bought them some time, only purchasing the land outright was a permanent solution. While Green Beat had raised the necessary funds, securing the land purchase could take months.

In the meantime, they had lots to teach the Buyungule Pygmy community. It will certainly be an eventful month.