Never Ending Food
A sustainable agriculture project in Malawi
Something we came to appreciate in our time in Africa is that the best action by any NGO takes time: a long, slow, grass-roots investment on the part of a few dedicated individuals is far more likely to change people’s lives than a huge endowment, an international scope, or a famous board of directors.
That kind of local sustained effort is what makes Never Ending Food so cool.
The brains behind the organization are Stacia and Kristoff Nordin, two Americans who came to Malawi as Peace Corps volunteers and then, well, never left. They have lived in Malawi for over fifteen years, adopting the country as their own, learning Chichewa, even applying for citizenship and sending their daughter to local schools. It’s the approach of solidarity and respect, of mutual-exchange and learning that makes them so unique.
NEF is based in the Nordins’ home in Lilongwe, running trainings on permaculture and nutrition for all levels of Malawian society, from villagers to government officials. The goal is to expose locals to the true range of food the Malawian climate is capable of providing, and so to escape the boom-and-bust rhythm of maize cultivation that has plagued the country in much of its post-independence history. “There is no reason for Malawi to be importing food from the United States,” Kristof told us when we visited, “We should be exporting food to the US.”
When you see their garden, and the gardens planted by their apprentices and students, and the gardens planted by the neighbors of their apprentices and students, it’s hard to disagree.