Friday December 21, Kenya officially inaugurated its first earth market, in the town of Molo, in the country’s south west. The decision to start an Earth Market was driven by a recognition of the need to revive local food and traditions, bring food producers and consumers together, and make fresh, high-quality products available. The project aims to strengthen the local economy, since market access remains one of the biggest challenges facing small-scale farmers in Molo and throughout the whole country.
The home of the market, Molo, is a large town in Nakuru County with a population of a little over 100,000 people. The region is particularly suited to agricultural activity with a prevalence of mixed farming (consisting of both animal and crop production). The main livestock reared there are cattle, poultry, sheep, and goats. The dairy industry is the leading livestock enterprise while maize, beans, Irish potato, wheat, fruits, vegetables, and flowers are the most cultivated crops.
The city of Molo, the birthplace of the local convivium, was chosen to host the Earth Market due to its centrality in relation to Slow Food activities in Nakuru County. In addition, communities in the area have been very active in promoting the Slow Food philosophy through nominating products to the Ark of Taste, establishing Slow Food gardens (such as, for example, the one hosted at the Baraka Agricultural school), and participating in the Cooks’ Alliance and Slow Food Presidia projects.
The market involves many different producers from more than 30 Slow Food communities, including the Ogiek, Karirikania, Lare, Kihoto, and Kangawa communities, the Herbs Growers group (Gilgil community), an organic pesticide producer (Salome Njeri), organic juice makers (Kenyatta community), traditional seeds savers (Makongo community), the Network for Eco-farming in Africa (NECOFA), and the Baraka Agricultural college. The Baraka Agricultural school is also involved in a Slow Food School Garden project.
The communities will bring a rich selection of products to the Earth Market, including many Slow Food Presidia products such as the Lare Pumpkin, Molo Mushunu Chicken, Ogiek Honey, and Mau Forest Dried Nettle. It will also be possible to purchase local honey, vegetables such as organic kale and strawberries, medicinal herbs (moringa, neem, pepino melons, mint, rosemary, and different herbal teas, among other products), and plants like nettles that are useful for agricultural and ecological practices.