My ancien x3 started the garden that I now work in. The crazy thing is I met him during Install. He now works throughout West Africa, and took vacation to visit his old PC site. It was really cool to meet him, never in a million years did I think I would. He was here more than 6 years ago! The garden is located behind the Regional Department of Agriculture (DRDR). It works in connection with ISRA which is the seed research association under the Department of Horticulture, here in Senegal. There is a big agriculture scene in Saint-Louis. There are schools and centers created for the sole purpose of education in agriculture.
This is my counterpart. His name is Babacar and he is my Peace Corps appointed counterpart. He learned his skills in agriculture from the DRDR and from centers throughout Saint-Louis dedicated to education. Now he passes on his knowledge to students and different groups/villages who need help. Just about everyday he works in the Demo Garden.
Some problems I have observed:
- SO MUCH TRASH! Being a Urban Ag volunteer I knew I would deal with trash filled spaces, but I didn’t expect to have to remove trash from garden beds everyday.
- There’s an irrigation system, but it’s not being used because there isn’t enough pressure to send enough water out. So why is there? Why do we still act like we use it?
- It always smells like burning trash. It’s not unusual to smell burning trash. Typically trash pick up is not a thing. People tend to dump trash wherever they think it is okay. In terms of the garden, it makes me concerned for several reasons: chemistry of the soil, health of me and everyone who works in garden (do you think it’s good to breathe in burning plastic for extended periods of time?), and I don’t like that it encourages throwing trash in the garden because someone will “take care of it” aka burn it. We need to find a better solution to this.
Hopefully during my service I can address some these concerns.
Some great ideas implemented that I want to share:
This display was made my ancien. It demonstrates the use of containers for gardening purposes. Old purses, plastic jugs of water, even shoes!
More container gardens! These are obviously from old tires. They currently have basil and mint growing in them!
Other great ideas include:
- Alley cropping (I don’t have a picture of this)
- Live fencing (see how the fences have plants growing within them)
- Water storage ideas (cement basin on the left below)
- Using papayas to draw nematodes away from other species. Plus papayas are beautiful and so fun to look at!
During my service I hope to use this garden for my own education, to practice certain techniques, so I can implement them elsewhere. The workers in the garden are all helpful and supportive of me trying different techniques and taking my time to learn more about agriculture in Senegal. All in all, it’s a great starting point for me for the beginning of a great service!