Together with The Future of Hope Foundation, founded and led by social entrepreneur Chido Govera, Vanmechelen is building a network that will give as many Africans as possible an income and provide them with locally-sourced food. The parent farm in Harare is a training centre where orphans are taught how to grow oyster mushrooms and other edible mushroom species and at the same time learn essential life skills, such as social behaviour, and dealing with sexuality, AIDS and hygiene.
In November 2017, the first Hukukhulu or 'big chickens' were released in the local communities. These chickens are the result of a cross between Vanmechelen's latest generation of Cosmopolitan Chicken and local, commercial chicken breeds. In August 2016, the project was launched during Vanmechelen's solo exhibition in The National Gallery of Zimbabwe. Afterwards, the breeding project was continued by Chido Govera, a food expert and social entrepreneur. She breeds the parent couples and then releases the offspring to her network of (mainly female) local farming entrepreneurs.
These chickens add value to our mushroom-based integrated food production system, which converts ingredients and nutrients that are less suitable or unavailable for human consumption into effective food products. Moreover, poultry is something the women already know quite well and that they can easily work with. Through diversification, Hukukhulu offers us much-needed resilience.