Salem Children’s Village

On the periphery of downtown Addis Ababa is the Salem Children’s Village, a multifaceted NGO serving orphaned children. The Children’s village was founded 25 years ago on a huge tract of productive land including a large vegetable farm, dairy, livestock, and nursery as well as a technical vocational school, handicraft center and medical center. The farm stand, open to the public is attached to a bakery and kitchen, which produces a daily lunch of international dishes.

On the hot sunny day I visited I got a tour of the substantial farm where workers were busy watering the crops and tilling the soil with oxen. In the fields I saw head cabbage, several types of leafy kale, potatoes, onions, leeks, carrots, and heads of lettuce. A small dairy with about 50 sweet-faced cows was being cleaned for the day, and the large nursery was full of flowering plants and trees.

I was a little too early for lunch, but I was there as people started to show-up at the farm stand, snatching at the harvested cool wet heads of lettuce, bunches of carrots and cabbage heads, warm loafs of dense wheaty bread, and peanut-carrot cakes shaped like hearts parading fresh out of the oven. Later in the week they, also offer cheese and butter for sale with the fresh milk. Everything they told me is grown without chemicals, the Ethiopian code word for small-scale-organic.