Watching the ducks splashing around in their duck pond and looking out up into the bush to see a giraffe saunter past, you couldn’t feel further away from civilization. But that is the charm of Ololo Farm and Lodge that lies on the southern border of the Nairobi National Park, only a short drive from the hustle and bustle that is Nairobi. Passionate about regenerative farming and a true paddock to plate experience, the Ololo team truly believe that people, food, the soil, water and air are all deeply connected. And so, they work hard every day to keep these connections strong and healthy so to create a sustainable livelihood for themselves and to help others do the same.
You can’t help but smile and giggle as you watch the Ololo chicken flock race over from all corners of their lavish pasture to greet an Ololo team member as they step into the field with a bucket full of freshly picked lettuce from their veggie garden (cupboard love? I think so) or when you see the gaggle of ducks and the odd goose stride up for yet another swim in their much too extravagant pond. This image sums up what Ololo is about, their livestock are truly free range and have full access to a diverse range of pasture that is effortlessly fertilized by themselves on a daily basis. A groovy eggmobile is where they get tucked up at night and where their eggs stay safe and sound until collected the next morning. Rearing day-old chicks and ducklings totally organically means that absolutely no hormones, antibiotics or steroids are used, and they receive high quality organic feed from an early age.
What I have described above seems simple, but in fact, the Ololo team run an exceptionally complex system that works in complete harmony with nature. To build their soils, they run a vermiculture unit that produces ‘Ololo Worm Tea’ that is an amazing natural fertiliser and 100% of the Lodge’s kitchen waste is fed to the chickens or composted for use in their veggie garden. The chicken’s Eggmoible is on wheels and is moved on 2 weekly basis to allow for its old location to breath and flourish after its rich chicken poo fertilization. A ‘grey water’ recycling and filtration unit treats all waste water that is then used in the Ololo gardens. Nothing goes to waste at Ololo, on a visit there I found the team shredding old makuti that had been taken off for Lodge reinnervations, when I questioned this, they said they were using the Makuti to add organic matter to the soils in a trial.
The Ololo farm has recently been granted our organic status in April 2020 through Kenya Organic Agriculture Network (KOAN).
Ololo work with St. John’s primary school that was started in the year 2002, with the aim of helping the orphans, street children and the poor. It now has over 400 students. Ololo would like to be able to completely renovate every classroom in the school, to create an environment for learning. It is difficult to learn and concentrate in a classroom with minimal light, or a leaking roof.
Their recent ‘Trees for life’ initiative will also help provide a better environment in the Kibera school, not only shade for the children to play under but also an educational tool to teach them about Kenya’s indigenous trees and why we must conserve them.
Finally, Ololo work closely with a local deaf organisation. After employing two of the members as farm workers, it was amazing to see how all of the Ololo team had learnt the fundamentals of sign language in a couple of weeks. They hope to be able to use the farm as an agricultural training facility for other members.