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Ten years of Food for Good challenges

16 March 2021

Ten years of Food for Good challenges

It’s the tenth anniversary of the Food for Good, a network that unites global food and farming businesses behind the power of food to change lives.

Our dedicated members support Farm Africa’s work across eastern Africa, helping farmers grow their incomes sustainably while protecting the environment.

Funds are raised through membership fees and through challenges bravely taken on by leaders within the food industry. From beehive building in Tanzania to a trek across Mount Elgon on the border of Uganda and Kenya, our Food for Good members have been put through their paces to transform the lives of farmers.

The anniversary is an incredible milestone for the network and in celebration we’re taking a look at some of the network’s hardest and most rewarding adventures over the last ten years.

Thousand Trees Challenge, Uganda, 2019

Eight senior businesswomen from the UK food and farming industry travelled to the remote town of Kanungu in western Uganda to take on the Thousand Trees challenge, planting 1,000 trees in just three days and raising over £60,000 for Farm Africa.

Although confident, Sarah Louise Fairburn, former Brand and Sales Director at L J Fairburn & Son Limited, soon learnt that digging holes in dense vegetation and rough mountainous terrain using a hoe was far from easy.

“It became apparent how resilient and hard working the female coffee farmers were. Our challenge was their daily reality,” Sarah commented.

“Something that hit home very early on in the challenges was that planting 1,000 trees to raise money to support these communities was just one facet to Farm Africa’s overarching goal. By planting trees, soil quality on the farms we supported would be enhanced, coffee plants would be shaded from the intense sunlight to develop increased yields and the fruit trees we planted would feed the farmers’ families and provide an additional source of income.”

Read more about Sarah’s experience in her blog and watch vlogs from other participants.

Mount Elgon Trek, Uganda, 2018

13 trekkers took on a gruelling seven-day hike up and across Mount Elgon, an extinct volcano that straddles the Uganda-Kenya board. High altitudes, rocky terrain, and freezing conditions made this one of Food for Goods toughest challenges to date. Luckily, the incredible views and the fundraising target of £100,000 for Farm Africa made the sore feet worthwhile.  

Jonathan Neale, Managing Director of Buying at Aldi, Richard Macdonald, former Chair of Farm Africa blogged about their experience of climbing the highest peak in the Mount Elgon range and meeting the communities they were fundraising for.

On climbing the highest peak in Mount Elgon, Richard commented, “The climb is punishingly steep and you have to shuffle up tiny steps to each the tio. After four and a half hours of relentless and gruelling tekking, we reached the peak. It was a fabulose feeling to reach the top of Uganda!”

Jonathan was extremely pleased to see Farm Africa’s work in action at the end of the trip, commenting, “We were met by farmers from the Matendo, Greenlight and Sosiot groups - all part of Farm Africa's Growing Futures project. Funded by ALDI, the project brings young farmers together to help them build sustainable farming businesses by giving them the skills and training they need to grow high quality produce - such as French beans, cabbage and kale - to sell to both local and international markets. The entrepreneurial spirit and agricultural expertise on show was truly brilliant to behold.”

Big Beehive Build, Tanzania, 2017

In 2017, 14 women travelled to Tanzania to build 100 beehives for the Bermi beekeeping group, to raise funds for Farm Africa and help the local community kick-start profitable and sustainable honey farming businesses. 

Lorraine Hendle, Managing Director, Retail & Manufacturing at William Reed Business Media was one of the brave participants that took on the challenge.

“Tired bodies were forgotten as we looked at the rows of beehives completed with super boxes, bedding boxes and queen patios all held together with thousands and thousands of nails. The sense of achievement is amazing; yet surpassing this is the thought of the difference the hives will make. A 72-hour challenge is the beginning of a local community business. The women, men and children of the Bermi community will all benefit from this resource. We all share the same ambitions but resource is what divides us.”  

Read about Lorraine’s experience here.

Tanzania Highland Challenge, Tanzania, 2016

In 2016, ten trekkers left the UK to face a challenging hike across the Tanzanian Highlands. High altitudes, blisters and sunburn didn’t deter this ambitious group from completing the trek across one of Africa’s harshest and most untamed landscapes.

Ed Mitchell and Ann Marie Swart describe their highlights from the trip - witnessing Tanzania’s beautiful wildlife.

Ed commented, “We set off at first light, up towards a dry season Masai village, deserted at this time of year, and were treated to the sight of nearly 20 giraffes of all ages and sizes showing great curiosity at the rather strange group weaving towards them. Then into deep forest, climbing up to the rim of the Ngorongoro crater, climbing in and out of fallen trees.”

“The variety of the scenery, plants and wildlife is overwhelming and everything can change within a day's walk. You can see the close relationship between the people and their habitat. Everyone is incredibly hard-working - from people in the villages that we pass, small children on their long walks to school carrying fire,” said Ann Marie.

Read the full blog about the trek here.

Bale Mountains Challenge, Ethiopia, 2015

A group of senior members of the UK food industry set off on a 117km trek across Ethiopia’s Bale Mountains in support of Farm Africa. The team hiked through forests, scaled peaks and met the Ethiopian farming communities they raised money to help.

Nigel Dunlop, former CEO of Moy Park captured some of the perils of the trip in his blog:

“It should have taken a further four hours to complete our journey, but it turned into a marathon lasting just over seven hours!  As we headed up into the hills we encountered extremely dense fog. With a steep slope rising to our left and a sheer drop to our right, the poor visibility slowed us down to almost walking pace.  At one stage, visibility was no more than two to three feet ahead, so as you can imagine, progress was slow!”

Thankfully, participants made it through the fog and carried on their journey to meet some of the smallholder farmers their challenge was benefitting. 

Richard Macdonald, former Farm Africa Chair, commented, “Bale is stunningly beautiful and remote, we have passed nomadic families living the most basic lives. We have also visited Farm Africa’s projects just south of Bale and seen the stunning difference these interventions have made to the lives of thousands of smallholders.” 

Dig for Good, Kenya, 2014

Lastly, we’re heading all the way back to 2014, the year that 14 senior executives from the UK's food industry worked shoulder to shoulder in the blazing sun with a team of Kenyan women to dig a fish pond the size of a swimming pool. This challenge took place over three days in Kisumu, western Kenya and not only raised money for Farm Africa, but the pond itself provided fish and income for a remote, rural community.

Farm Africa's Victoria Rae, who travelled with the Dig for Good team, shared some of the experiences of the challengers and the profound impact community members has on them in this blog.

Judith Batchelar, Director of Corporate Responsibility, Sustainability & Public Affairs at Sainsbury’s and Farm Africa Trustee, commented, “The women already each have their own fishpond and this one will be shared by the community – all putting labour in and all gaining benefit as a result. Blazing sun did not seem to daunt [the community] and we worked on until the early evening when it was cooler.”

Emma from Cosine UK found the challenge eye-opening, commenting, "It’s been amazing to see the traditional method of fishing and to realise how hard people work without landing much fish, and then to see the impact Farm Africa is making through fishponds. When we met the Afula group we could sense they were going places and had big plans about what they would do with the money they make from the harvest. By investing their money back in the ponds I could see they were moving their lives onto a sustainable footing.”

Join the network and keep an eye on our website for Food for Good’s latest challenges and events.