Back in November, we shared stories from our two new partner communities in 2018. Yougouré was one of these communities and had just started to clear a plot of land where they would cultivate a sustainable year-round garden. Fast-forward about four months and Yougouré has already started harvesting! In March of 2019 they harvested 551 pounds of vegetables and are only just getting started.
Like CREATE!’s other partner communities, Yougouré formed a cooperative garden group of both men and women interested in learning new agricultural methods. This group receives weekly training from CREATE!’s field technicians in advanced agricultural techniques and assistance in planning for future garden activities. Each day, cooperative members gather at their garden sites to transplant seedlings, water growing crops, and harvest vegetables that are ready to eat. They are learning how to cultivate a wide-variety of vegetables including okra, tomato, onion, pepper, eggplant, and more.
Let’s take a look at Yougouré’s success with some step-by-step photo highlights that show the progress of their year-round garden project:
Making Organic Compost
First, women create organic compost for their garden. This is a key ingredient to their agricultural success! The compost is mainly made from livestock manure amongst other natural ingredients and is mixed together with water from Yougouré’s rehabilitated well.
Forming the Garden
Next, the compost gets mixed with sand from the plot in order to form garden beds. The compost provides crops with the nutrients they need to grow strong and healthy. Once the garden beds are formed, women will plant the seeds. They care for the young plants by making sure the soil is breathable and pulling out unwanted weeds.
Nourishing the Plants
Yougouré’s cooperative garden group makes sure their plants have enough water every day. As seen in the back left of the photo above, Yougouré has its own water basin that is filled daily through a gravity-fed irrigation system connected to the community well. A solar-powered pumping system in the well ensures that Yougouré will have year-round access to water for both garden and household use.
Protecting Their Garden
Since the community garden becomes like an oasis in the desert, it’s not uncommon for pests to flock to the lush green area in an otherwise barren land. Oftentimes, women will cover their crops with old bug-netting as a way to keep pests from eating the young plants. As you can see in the photo above, Yougouré has even made their own scarecrow!
Time to Harvest
A few months later, women are harvesting navets (turnips) from their community garden. Congratulations Yougouré! Normally, large harvests only happen during the rainy season in rural Senegal. But with year-round access to water and sustainable gardening techniques, the community of Yougouré can grow and harvest food throughout the entire year.
Year-Round Gardens Increase Health
An increase in vegetables means an increase in health too. Now families in Yougouré are eating nutritious and diverse meals every day. Before, women would often travel by foot, donkey cart, or the back of a motorcycle to shop at high-priced weekly markets. However, with vegetables being produced right in the community, women no longer need to travel outside the village to buy fresh produce. In fact, our partner communities often harvest so many vegetables that they return to those markets to sell their extra produce and generate income.
What’s Next for Yougouré?
Yougouré is learning and utilizing their new agricultural knowledge fast. Soon they will be selling their extra produce to generate income. Cooperative groups often tailor their vegetable production to meet demand during local religious festivals, which helps increase profits for their group! Once community members in Yougouré begin generating income, CREATE!’s technicians will help women establish Voluntary Savings & Lending Associations (VSLA). This program helps women gain basic financial literacy skills to manage their profits, opening new doors to new opportunities.
Yougouré has a bright future ahead and we are so excited for them! Through their hard work and tenacity, community members are developing valuable opportunities for themselves and future generations to come. This is the type of success we would like to see spread throughout rural Senegal and beyond. Our work is not possible without the support of our donors. We rely on the generosity of individuals, like you, for support. Any contribution, little or large, goes towards making a difference in the Senegal community. Help spread knowledge to more communities like Yougouré by donating to CREATE! today!