Above: Women enjoy an abundance of fresh papaya from their garden in Darou Diadji during the cool season in Senegal.
What is winter like where you live? For many of us in the US, January is a month of chilly temperatures, short daylight hours, and long, cozy nights! For our partner villages, however, December through April marks the cool season in Senegal, when temperatures drop to the 80s-90s Fahrenheit. This may still sound pretty warm, but keep in mind that in summer, it can be well over 100 degrees even in the shade!
Across our 13 partner communities this time of year, CREATE! participants are tending to their gardens, where they’re growing tomatoes, cucumbers, eggplant, and turnips, among other vegetables. It’s only the beginning of winter, yet over the last couple months, garden cooperative members have harvested hundreds of pounds of fruits and vegetables that they eat, share with neighbors and family, and sell on the market. Cooperatives can also grow a wider variety of crops this time of year, including mint, lettuce, and other leafy greens.
“Before my community partnered with CREATE! I worked only in the rainy season, and when I needed money, I sold a part of my harvest in the market,” says Oumy Mbaye, 40, of Thienaba. For the rest of the year, she would buy vegetables from the market in Gossas. Because she supports a family of 8, this could be incredibly challenging and expensive at times.
Now that Oumy has been working with CREATE!’s technicians over the last several years, however, she feels much more self-sufficient in her ability to grow food year-round. “I’ve memorized all the gardening techniques we were taught, and I’m able to do it all without help,” she says. “The vegetable cultivation is my favorite CREATE! program, because it was very difficult to get it in the community before, but now it is always available to us.”