Jenipher knew from a young age that she wanted to pursue a career in farming. Growing up in rural Kakun, Kenya, as one of seven children, she was the most eager to help her mom with farm work throughout her childhood. After completing her schooling, she trained in agriculture and prepared to start her own farm. Since then, Jenipher has prided herself on using her farm as a way to improve health, nutrition, and food security in her community. One way she has done so is with her innovative unripe pawpaw and vegetable meal (papaya is known locally as pawpaw), which she was inspired to develop after a severe drought caused a vegetable scarcity in her community. With very few vegetables available, Jenipher and her family were in need of something to eat. There was no time to wait for the pawpaw to ripen, so Jenipher decided to try cooking it raw. The result was a delicious and nutritious meal that she still cooks today.
To make her unripe pawpaw and vegetable meal, Jenipher harvests the fruit once it has grown large but before it has ripened. She removes the peel as well as the outer layer of the fruit. Then, she grates the inner layers of the fruit. Once fully grated, she sautees the unripe pawpaw with oil. If available, she also adds onions and tomatoes to the pan. She fries the pawpaw until it is softened. The meal can be eaten as is or served alongside other staples, such as Ugali.
Jenipher’s innovative recipe has helped to improve the health, nutrition, and food security of her community members, especially in times of extreme weather (which are more and more common with climate change) and low crop production. Since the first time she cooked this meal, many others in her community have used and adapted the recipe.