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Hand-Turned Rift Valley
Nut Dish

  • Handcrafted by artisans in the Rift Valley, these trays are handy for organizing and collecting many things: loose change, keys, candies, and yes, nuts.

    Working together with their Maasai neighbors, Philip and Katy Leakey have created handmade woodcrafting machines and tools to utilize extremely hard fallen Acacia wood, with its beautiful grain, for something more lasting than firewood. Through a tedious three-month process, each tray is seasoned, sanded and oiled to ensure the highest quality finished product for safe use in food service.

    Size: 9"L x 4"W x 1"T.

  • In 2001, a terrible drought persisted for several years and brought devastation to the pasture lands. The livelihood of the Maasai disappeared as their cattle died. The men had to drive the few remaining cattle hundreds of miles away in search for better grazing while the women looked desperately for ways to feed, clothe, and educate their children and obtain medical supplies. Philip and Katy Leakey, founders of The Leakey Collection who live among the Maasai in East Africa, wanted to provide their neighbors with work opportunities. They came up with an imaginative idea to utilize the excellent beading abilities of the Maasai women by using a readily available, sustainable resource- GRASS- as the primary element.

    Previously used in the furniture industry due to its strength, the reed-like grass was dried, cut into bead-size pieces, dyed with environmentally-friendly textile dyes, and strung on durable elastic with hand-blown Czech glass beads. Mobile work stations were set up so the women could bring their babies and toddlers with them and work when they chose.  As word passed through the Maasai community, women started walking as much as two hours each way to have their first chance to earn money. Now, even the men have joined in the entrepreneurial opportunities by handcrafted wood kitchen items.