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An edible garden

- The paradise of Shaib

Two-acres of land (about 0.8 ha), little soil, full of stones and yet Shaib Muhamed and his son are showing us over 30 edible plants;  fruit trees, vegetables, tubers and legumes, which are growing quite well on this land. The average temperature is about 30 degrees centigrade. We can easily foresee that the trees when growing bigger will provide nice shadow and shelter for the family and their guests when they are enjoying the freshness of the coconut drinks. In this upcoming edible garden, the paradise of Shaib, you will hear the birds singing, insects buzzing and a number of beautiful butterflies flying. This is the land that Shaib, a 35-year old man and his family bought 2010. This upcoming paradise is located in Dunga at the central part of Zanzibar.

We are astonished when seeing how much that has been done within these two years. Now when he and his son, with a mixture of proudness and humbleness, are showing us their farm we believe they have many reasons to be very proud. This is a place where he, his wife and their two children (6 and 1 year respectively) spend time during the weekends when their elder son does not go to school. He hopes that one day the whole family can move from town to the land.

Shaib’s desire for poultry keeping and his aspect on parenting drove him to search for a land where he could keep animals, away from the main road and the hectic life in town. It was a friend who informed him when this piece of land was for sale. When he first saw the farm, there were a small number of edible fruits grown. He saw the potential of combining his dream of a healthy family life together with poultry keeping and growing of edible plants. This farm is a paradise for a person who loves nature and gardening.

Shaib and his elder son, Akram. Photo: Naturbruket Siljan

​It is a paradise where one can see how the food can be produced without disturbing the ecosystem. It is a place where any permaculturalist would never wish to leave. It is a good place where children can grow up and have fun. It is Shaib’s paradise!

In the farm, all the plants that are grown have a function. Plants are mixed with one another to form beautiful garden rooms. As an example, there is a room where guava and papaya trees are planted, passion fruits are climbing on those trees and peas plants, lima beans are growing between the trees, sugarcane plants are bordering a garden “room” and the pumpkin plants are spreading their happiness to cover the ground.

A permaculture principle: Use and value diversity. “Do not put all your eggs in one basket”. Here, one of the garden rooms at the paradise of Shaib. Photo: Naturbruket Siljan.

Some plants that are grown improve microclimate, which help to nurture the young plants. For instance, the cassava plant has been grown to give shade to the small soursop trees that would otherwise die due to a high temperature during day time.

Mixing of crops optimizes the space as it makes it possible to plant a number of varieties in between the distances, takes advantage of the sunlight and water, and reduces the risk for plant diseases and harmful insects. In this paradise there is no bare land directly exposed to the strong sun that in the long run would reduce the fertility of the soil.

Right now, there are few guinea fowls and geese at the farm. They are providing manure that is used in the farm. Shaib is growing all these for own consumption and he gives away the surplus to his relatives and friends. He thinks that when he is ready to take the step to sale the surplus for cash, he might need to specialize in just some few crops.

The next plans that wait in the priority list are building a waterhole and a chicken house. He has seen the potential of keeping chicken of a local breed in order to cater a high demand of chicken manure, meat and eggs.

Shaib knows quite a lot about farming. He has learned in a traditional way mostly from his uncle, but also through friends, and other people he meets. We believe that the Permaculture Design Course is going to increase his engagement in planning and integrating the poultry keeping, farming and the ecosystem at the farm. It will also inspire him to continue with his farm and open the possibilities that he can earn the cash from the surplus with the diversity rather than specialization.

We wish Shaib and his family good luck with their fulfilments of their dream.

Appendix 1:

This is what you can harvest from the paradise of Shaib, despite the stones.




Lima beans














Lady finger

Pulses “kunde”

Sweet potatoes


























Jack fruit










Snot apple










Cashew nut (test)






A lot of wild plants are also found, some are medicinal like holy basil and “mpamba wake”.

Other trees which grow in the farm are functional but not edible: “Mjenga ua”, “mkeshia”, “mvinje”.

You can even download "An edible garden - The paradise of Shaib" for inspirational purposes.

Text and photo: Naturbruket Siljan.


 Copyright 2015 Naturbruket Siljan