Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Gardening


As I mentioned before, the intrusion of animals is a major deterrent to gardening. Goats, sheep, cattle, and donkeys have free range during most of the day, and it only takes one to break from the herd and destroy a whole plot in the space of a minute. This year chickens have been the main problem; a few came through and wiped out all of the newly sprouted crops that five other women had planted in an adjacent area to ours. Those women didn't replant. Traditional methods of keeping animals out are either covering plots with big thorny branches, or weaving fence out of grasses, sticks, and thorns. We did both of those; after seeding, we used a nasty tangle of thorns, and once things started growing we built a grass fence around the perimeter of our plots. We haven't had any problems except some unknown something who keeps nibbling my collard babies.

I've had two village meetings with the landowners around the pond to see how we could afford purchasing metal fencing to enclose garden areas. Everyone is in unanimous agreement that many, many more people would garden if there were some insurance that their plots would be safe, and there is continued interest in investing in a more permanent solution than thorny branches. The challenge is that not only is metal fencing (chain link) prohibitively expensive here, but also that there is not yet a communally owned piece of land that could be enclosed. As it is, we would be fencing in certain individuals' land, and not others', which gets political and a bit messy. To clarify- the women are gardening on land owned by a man named Adamou, who lets them use his land for free during cold season. Fencing this part of his land would be awesome for gardeners, but is problematic for the other 12 landowners who would also like to fence in their plots and garden. So...there's some work to be done. Moussa suggested that I push to get a landowner to sell his or her land to the village, so it'd belong to everyone and no one, and could then be fenced in without rubbing anyone the wrong way.

In the meantime, the six of us will keep up our morning and afternoon trips to the garden, to water our growing veggies and get away from the bustle of the village for awhile.


Habi watering greens

Habi and Balki at their lettuce plots , inside of El Hadji Shaibu's land