18 November 2019

Sustainability & Eco Projects

As a model for sustainable and environmentally respectful practices, we work to continue the legacy of our founders Margaret and James Gibb through projects including solar energy, community upliftment, and organic farming. Each thing we do is a step towards creating a sanctuary for the senses, where our guests, our team and our animals feel nourished and content.

Gibb's Farm - Sustainability projects in Tanzania
Organic Foods

For over 27 years, Gibb’s Farm has practiced sustainable, environmentally-respectful farming methods. The farm has won numerous awards, including the Tanzania Tourist Board’s 2011 Sustainable Tourism Award.

  • Everything on the farm—30 acres of coffee, 10 acres of vegetables and fruit, 5 acres of flowers and herbs and a working dairy and pig farm—is grown or raised organically with no harmful pesticides and only natural fertilizer and compost.
  • Fruits and vegetables: 90% of the fruits and vegetables we serve are grown right on the farm. We raise many varieties, including 50 types of vegetables, 13 kinds of fruit and 15 different herbs.
  • Dairy: Our herd of 10-20 cows provides organic milk for farm guests. When they are not being milked, the cows graze in the nearby estate valley, Namnyak.
  • Meat: Cattle and pigs are fed farm kitchen and food waste, and feed grown on the farm or in nearby villages.
  • Coffee: 30 acres of rich Arabica coffee is organically cultivated. The beans are cleaned and roasted right on the estate.
  • Honey: Over 20 hives are located throughout the estate to provide healthy, delicious honey.
Water Ecology

To preserve water, one of the earth’s most precious resources, Gibb’s Farm water ecology practices include:

  • 100% of grey-water from kitchens, bathtubs, rainwater, and laundry is recycled into organic farms and gardens via a reed plant filtration system.
  • The largest solar panel array in northern Tanzania heats 90% or the farm’s water.
  • Treatment systems use bio-digesting septic tanks and French drain leach fields.
  • Pure well water, filtered through a Katadyn filter, provides drinking water and ice. Bottled water purchases are discouraged.
  • Non-potable water comes from three sources: a 50-year-old dam built in the Ngorongoro Conservation Area, piped to the vegetable and flower gardens; reed plant-filtered greywater, and well water.
Refuse Disposal

Gibb’s Farm recycles or disposes of all waste onsite so that no solid waste is placed into the surrounding community waste stream. Our responsible disposal practices include:

  • 100% of kitchen and food waste are either fed to farm pigs or composted for use in the organic gardens.  Cottage and kitchen fireplace ashes and pig and cow manure are added to the compost system.  Many of the flower and vegetable plant cuttings are also composted.
  • Most plastic breaks down in ultraviolet sunshine.  After a few months, the bottles are broken and buried in an 80-foot pit, specially designed for non-toxic material.
  • Glass wine bottles are stored in bulk and donated to various causes, such as a small NGO where handicapped artisans recycle the glass to make jewelry.
  • Tin cans are flattened, burned and placed in the 80-foot pit.  Odd bits of metal are reused in construction or sold for scrap.
  • Miscellaneous items such as light bulbs and metal spray cans are placed directly into the 80-foot pit.  The rest is burned and buried.
  • Paper is burned, and either added to the compost system or placed in the 80-foot pit.
  • Recycled motor oil is collected and used to prevent insect damage to building cladding.
Building Material

All farm restoration and construction is conducted with minimal importation and local fabrication.  This practice develops community skills and minimizes transportation fuel pollution. Toilet fixtures, most textiles, and some electrical materials were imported.

  • The farm’s tree nursery (with predominantly native species) helps to control erosion and reforest the environment.
  • More than 50% of old building materials were used as foundations, doors, shutters, and roofing for new buildings and restoration.  Cottages are made of stone and sustainable wood that is treated with recycled motor oil to protect it from insects to limit brick making and old-growth tree cutting.
  • Sustainable materials are used to build staff housing, from sun-dried mud bricks to thatched roofs, providing an example for the community of affordable alternatives to tin roofing and concrete intensive construction.
  • Furniture, textiles, and artwork are crafted on the farm by local carpenters, craftsmen, and artists-in-residence. A carpenter guild was established to teach fine furniture making and joinery.  Carpenters work in the farm woodshop, creating furniture for sale or ply their newly-learned skills in the local villages.
  • 50% of cottage walls are glass to allow for natural illumination, and low energy lighting and timer switches are installed in many areas.
  • In kitchen and storage areas, transparent sheets are mixed with corrugated tin roofing to allow natural lighting in.
  • Cottage cross ventilation and roof overhang provide cooling and shading properties.

Laundry is washed with water heated by solar power and clothes are dried using the sun and fresh air. Electric dryers are available upon request, but sun-drying is the preferred, more ecologically sound method.

  • Laundry is sun-dried. In inclement weather, a large open-air shelter allows for drying.
  • Water is heated by solar power.
  • Grey-water is recycled.
  • Bio-degradable detergent is used.
Gardens & Estate Forests

Eight gardens have been restored or established to attract bird and insect life and to provide a natural respite from the rigors of safari. You will discover a vast array of tree and bush species, many indigenous to East Africa.  Botanical artist Riziki Kateya has catalogued many of the plants, a few of which are unique to Gibb’s Farm. There is also a tree nursery where hundreds of young saplings are grown to encourage the growth of native tree species in the area.

  • Herb Garden: The kitchen herb garden features over 10 indigenous varieties and the formal English herb garden contains a variety of ornamental herbs.
  • Cactus Garden: Features 15 varieties of cactus, relocated from other areas of the farm.
  • Flower Garden: Over 200 species of birds have been sighted at Gibb’s Farm, many of which are attracted by the flower garden, originally planted over 40 years by Margaret Gibb.
  • Rose Garden: A small part of the original floral inventory included 15 species of roses. These have been returned to their first location among the oldest cottages and expanded.
  • Margaret’s Garden: A small garden that retains its original design and content.
  • Medicine Garden: Medicinal plants are freshly gathered and harvested from the Osero Forest Clinic’s medicine garden for use in traditional cures and treatments.
  • Trees and Shrubs: Over 60 species grow within the farm.
  • Ornamental Flowers: Nearly 200 species are represented; an exhaustive list is currently being completed.