Starting Small and Scaling Up

I’m privileged to be writing this brief update from the MIT D-Lab in Cambridge, an exciting place that I like to call “Shop Class for the World.”  So many inspiring people doing exciting things!  Great thanks to the D-Lab for their generous support to GreenPath!

GreenPath’s team has expanded to 13 staff members working together in Butajira and Addis.   We have now increased to 70 partner farmers in our permaculture apprenticeship program and are scaling up soon. We have established a fully-functioning farmer service center and have begun our first regular exports of avocados and herbs to Dhubai!

25 of our partner farmers have applied for EU organic certification, and we are eagerly awaiting the results.  This is the first time organic fruits and vegetables have ever been certified in Ethiopia (Coffee and sesame have been certified in the past) and certainly never with farmers so small.  I am really proud to have been a part of this innovation.

We have kicked off an exciting intercropping program called “Perennial Pathways/Annual Alleyways” (PPAA) that helps farmers transition into using permaculture techniques in a  modular, scaleable fashion.  This has diversified farmers’ crop base from only 1-2 crops to polycultures  of 6-8 crops, 50% of which are perennial. PPAAs build soil, conserve water, are modular, scalable, and are designed so that every single crop is mutually beneficial for all other crops in a permaculture system- all while being profitable from an export market perspective.

My distance PhD at Wageningen University in the Netherlands (aka “The Harvard of Agriculture”) has officially begun.  Designed for working professionals, Wageningen’s PhD in International Sustainable Agriculture allows me to continue working full time for GreenPath in Ethiopia while researching what motivates smallholder farmers to transition to growing organically.  Plus, I get to visit Holland two weeks per year : )

I’m also excited to announce that I will be presenting on “Starting Small and Scaling Up: Making Permaculture Profitable with Smallholder Farmers” at the first ever “Ukrainian Permaculture Convergence” in Lviv, Ukraine on May 14-15.  It’s an honor to exchange permaculture wisdom in the land of my heritage.  Please sign up to attend remotely or in person at:

I’m very excited to see friends and family during this brief visit to the US.  Please call me at my old US number or message me on facebook if you would like to meet up.

Photos coming soon!






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