The “tree of life” is growing in Winston-Salem.
For the past few years, Livingstone Flomeh-Mawutor and his wife, Tendai Shenjere, have been growing moringa trees on their farmland in East Winston and Rural Hall.
Originally from Africa, the couple have been harvesting the trees to produce MoreThanManna MORINGA, 60-capsule bottles of moringa leaf powder, named after the Old Testament story when God rained manna from heaven to feed the Israelites in the wilderness.
Moringa is a vegetable that is native to South Asia and has been naturalized around the world in tropical areas. The trees contain more than 90 nutrients and 46 antioxidants, and its leaves are reportedly a good source of protein, calcium, iron, B-carotene, vitamin C, and vitamin E. Many experts are speculating that moringa will become the next hot superfood, and NPR labeled it as “the new kale” in a 2015 article.
Moringa also has a long history of healing. It’s reportedly been used by indigenous people to assist in treatment and disease prevention for centuries. The plant is now used to combat an array of medical conditions ranging from gastric ulcers to skin diseases to fatigue. It’s also said to be successful at lowering blood sugar and increasing lactation, sex drive, and bone density. And because it’s easy to grow, it’s become an important food source to fight malnutrition in many parts of the world.
“This is really like the tree of life,” Flomeh-Mawutor says. “People call it ‘miracle tree.’”
Flomeh-Mawutor, a licensed professional counselor, and Shenjere, a retired registered nurse, have seen the benefits of moringa firsthand. Shenjere was diabetic and was using insulin, but when she began eating moringa, she lost weight, her blood pressure decreased, her cholesterol improved—and her doctor eventually declared her to be no longer diabetic. Flomeh-Mawutor meanwhile said he cured a tooth infection by chewing moringa leaves.
“My wife and I feel like this is a health ministry,” he says. “We’re both Christians. We want to help as many people as we can.”
Mary Jac Brennan, extension agent with the Forsyth County office of the N.C. Agricultural Extension Service, helped the couple seek grants from N.C. Ag Ventures to produce their value-added product: moringa leaf powder capsules. You can now purchase a 60-capsule bottle for $7.99 on the couple’s website, morethanmanna.com.
In Winston-Salem, moringa, a fast-growing tree, does best in the heat of the summer and must be replanted year after year, unless it is kept in a pot that can be moved indoors during cold weather. The couple has mentored community members so they can teach others how to grow, harvest, and process moringa. They are currently partnering with an interfaith community effort to provide moringa trees for $5 per seedling to local schools and churches, especially in the East Winston area. The goal, they say, is to introduce the tree and its benefits to the community at large.