The Permagarden, many months later

Once upon a time, I conducted a Permagarden training at the Kolda demonstration garden. With much care, revision, and help from the rainy season, it has blossomed (see below).

Things I learned from the experience:

  • Don’t be disappointed if locals do not replicate exactly what was learned at the training. It’s more important that they incorporate certain elements (e.g., double digging, soil amendments) of the Permagardening method into their existing farming practices.
  • Anticipate that there will be some male/female tension over whose role it is to do hard labor. Stand up for the women when the men say that women should leave the training site to pick neem leaves, instead of being involved and learning how to double-dig.
  • Everything planted during the training won’t always survive, so re-plantings, additional compost, and meticulous weeding may be necessary to make the garden demonstration-worthy.
  • Overestimate the amount that food and drink will cost when you write up a SPA grant for the training.
  • Take the time (and spend the money) to make nice certificates for all of the trainees to show they completed the training.
  • For the love of God, DO NOT serve coffee in cups that are too small. Trainees will make complaints about this, and the memory of this, and not the training itself, may become permanently lodged in their brains.

Before

After

After a few months - now!

Currently growing are beans companion planted with corn, beans companion planted with cucumbers, and peppers and eggplants in what I attempted as hexagonal intercropping. Around the edges are sweet potato vine and aloe vera. I just harvested several sweet potatoes, very satisfying.

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2 thoughts on “The Permagarden, many months later

  1. Hi! I saw your name/site from your comment on the goodintentions blog and I just wanted to say the community garden looks phenomenal. I volunteered for a non-profit run community garden that was led by a white in shining armor in a high-poverty black neighborhood in Florida. Unfortunately, the non-profit simply got funds from wealthy liberals using trendy buzzwords and progressive rhetoric while having no community buy-in or even results to show for the money spent; the garden consists of a few plots bought by people from wealthy parts of town who quickly lost interest in maintaining the garden. Anyway, I wouldn’t have minded the white in shining armor thing had the non-profit actually helped a the community it was working in, but it was just sustaining its own existence (I was unable to improve the situation before I moved away). So I have tremendous respect for helping grow a flourishing garden in your adopted Senegalese community! Enjoy the harvests and I hope your other PCV ventures are similarly effective and fulfilling.

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