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.
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.