Asta Ndiaye, 65, is a vegetable seller, so she certainly knows the value of having good quality produce. In the past, she used to buy and sell all her produce on the Kaolack market nearly 20 km away, but these days, she can grow her own vegetables to sell year-round from the community garden in Fass Koffe. “We know the quality of our vegetables because it’s our own production,” she says. “And I’ve also noticed a health improvement in my children since we’ve been eating vegetables every day.”

Asta is widowed and supporting a family of 6, so it is important to her to be able to produce enough vegetables to both feed her children and sell to make a living. With the local Voluntary Savings and Lending Association (VSLA), she has found that she can save money and manage her finances with the other women in Fass Koffe as well. “Thanks to the VSLA we are always able to get funds for satisfying our needs,” says Asta. “Women are participating in commerce now that they’re managing their finances through the VSLA.”

Asta Ndiaye waters the community garden block where she is growing lettuce. She puts netting on the blocks to protect them from pests, a technique she learned from training with CREATE!’s field technicians.

Asta has noticed many other changes in her community as well, since they graduated from CREATE!’s program two years ago, most notably the increase in shade and green space as trees from the reforestation program have matured and grown in. “There are now many trees around our houses, the garden site, and in the community,” she says. “Now we have green space in all seasons.” They also now have an active poultry shed where community members raise chickens to eat and sell. “With the poultry shed, we are able to eat chicken whenever we want, and they are rich in protein,” she explains. Having a poultry shed in the village has also helped bring the price down, making chicken more affordable to everyone.

For Asta, participating in CREATE!’s programs has meant that she has access to more resources to support her family, and more knowledge to pass down to her children to ultimately provide them with a better future.