Wangari Kuria is a young woman rubbishing the myth that farming is for the old and those residing in the villages.
Having dubbed herself the ‘Farmer on Fire’, she shares her farming journey on YouTube and teaches interested Kenyans how they can grow different types of crops.
Thanks to her impressive farming skills, she received the 2023 Global Citizen Prize in New York.
Here is her story as told WoK.
She was born and raised Nyahururu. Her father was a mechanic while her mother practiced farming. However, she did not see her mother making profits from her produce.
Wangari’s mother would harvest and her dad would take the crops to sell and use the money.
Her mother did not receive anything which did not make her feel like farming was something to do as a source of livelihood.
Growing up, Wangari wasn’t sure what she wanted to do with herself. This was not until her cousin got a scholarship to the UK and began to regale her with stories about university.
The farmer left Nyandarua in 2010 to join the University of Nairobi to pursue a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology, Political Science and Communication.
She went on to join USIU where she did a Master’s Degree in Business Administration-Strategic Management between 2015 and 2018.
Doing odd jobs and getting into real estate
After university, she struggled to get a job. To eke a living, she hawked light bulbs then began bringing people maids from the village. Partnering with a friend, they started cleaning buildings for people.
At the time, she was living in Eastleigh in a house whose rent was Ksh2,000 monthly.
Later, she secured a job with a real estate company. Starting with a modest salary of Ksh60,000, she grew in the company and even took a loan, bought a plot in Nairobi and built apartments later on.
However, things changed when she lost her job. At that time, she was still servicing her loan and had never imagined she would struggle to find another job. Things got so difficult but she pressed on.
At the time, she had met her partner and the two relocated to a farm in Kitengela. She started farming and would even approach neighbours who were not using their plots and ask to farm in them.
“It was at this point that I started a garden at home. I later requested my neighbours to lend me their idle spaces to farm, which they agreed,” she said in a past interview.
The mother of two also began sharing her journey online. Today, her small farm has strawberries, sage, coriander and mushrooms among other crops.
Speaking to Lynn Ngugi, she explained what it takes to plant high value crops for those with small pieces of land. This crops bring in more money compared to the rest.
Her mushrooms give her between Ksh360,000 to Ksh400,000 within six weeks. According to her, the most important thing in mushroom farming is to keep the room temperature stable. She also does black soldier fly farming in order to get animal feed.
Her hope is to see more Kenyans embrace farming and not take it as a job done by unattractive people.