Agroforestry work is officially underway! Ground has been broken and beds created, seeds planted and a tree nursery established. My bed hopes to someday bear fava beans, bush beans, corn, and the magical moringa tree. Fingers crossed that I’ll get to enjoy some of the harvest before training is through. Our most recent initiatives have been fence construction and creating our three-bin compost system. It’s been hard work, in the hot sun and after school, but it’s worth it to feel like I am finally making progress on what I came here to do and getting my hands (and feet and clothes and face) dirty in the process.
It’s been strange to have to relearn gardening fundamentals without the tools and amenities that are easily accessible in America. For example, instead of buying pre-made mesh for our fence we’ve been lashing and weaving together palm fronds in between the branches we’re using as posts. Or to water the garden we can’t just set an automated watering system or even turn on the hose, we’ve been hauling the water by bucket from across the compound. Many of the plants we sowed in the garden beds are familiar to me: green beans, corn, okra, carrots, etc. but that’s about where it stops. The native flora and trees we’re using are all foreign. My garden homework this past weekend was starting my own tree ID notebook and seed collections. I’ve never wanted a well-organized dichotomous key so badly before!
*Shout out to all my BLM-ers for their fabulous herbarium & seed collection skills*
Yesterday we took a break from the hard work to visit some nearby cascades—complete with swimming hole! It felt wonderful to relax and be completely immersed in water after living in this relentless heat and humidity. We swam, played Frisbee, ate hummus, and tried (unsuccessfully) to tan our pale knees and stomachs--truly a world apart from daily life in Dubreka.