Greg Bogdan’s Memorial Garden in Sapla Kenya

In the countries where we work, you’re more likely to hear about the DIG program from our graduated farmers than through fancy signs or posted advertisements. Our local reputation is critically important to the success of our work, which is designed to be approachable and community driven.

Some of our most successful garden groups have joined DIG through friend recommendations, and that’s just what happened in Sapla Kenya.

Lorna, the sister to one of our graduated farmers, was so interested in our program that she gathered 28 members of her community and petitioned us for training. Before the group started, only 23% grew vegetables at home, and of those individuals, none used climate resilient or restorative agriculture practices.

Offering a piece of her land for the demonstration site, Lorna and the group gathered weekly to learn how to design gardens that worked with the landscape. They amended the soil, prioritized nutrient dense vegetables, responded to challenges with ecological pest management, and prepared for the future by saving seeds. They tried new cooking techniques and tasted new vegetables for the first time. Today, their demo garden features 12 varieties of nutrient dense vegetables all of which they comfortably grow and eat. Beyond this, they’ve prioritized kale, green pepper and onion to sell in the local markets and are beginning the Bogdan Course to further their farm business skills.

Rose Odoyo is one of the Sapla members who was particularly excited about the DIG training. She had previously tried growing vegetables as a source of food and income but never had much success. The DIG program taught her new techniques, which she was not only able to adopt at home but also able to teach her mother-in-law. Working together, they have cultivated a large home garden which they regularly harvest from.

With DIG’s support, Rose started an organic vegetable stall where she sells her excess produce in a nearby market. It’s already had a big impact on her income.  

My stall is shaded which is good because it protects me, my customers, and my vegetables from the sun and rain,” says Rose.

I have customers who now only come to me because I have so many different vegetables and fruits at my stall. They call me ‘Mama Fruit’ and I’m proud of the name. My profit has also increased from $5 a week to $21 a week. I keep my stall clean and stocked,” says Rose. “I’m so grateful to DIG to be doing what I’m doing.”

Seeing Rose’s garden grow and blossom, and witnessing her enthusiasm as she teaches her mother-in-law make us so proud. The way she cares for her vegetable stall and carefully stocks her shelves for her customers tells us she’s in this for the long haul and has found value in what she’s learned. We could not have worked with Rose or her group without the support and trust from our individual supporters. Over 100 people remembered Greg Bogdan with gifts to DIG. And, like Greg would have wanted, we used those gifts where we saw the need and opportunity.

As we remember Greg and honor him through this Sapla Garden group, we thank his incredible community for making this story possible. Greg loved DIG. As a founding supporter and Board chair he trusted and challenged us to do more and do better.

Now, a year after Greg’s death, and with so much challenging our world, we think he would have smiled in the success of this small garden and the many lives it has changed for the better.

His memory reminds us to do what we can, where we can, and keep growing.