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Report on Visit to Senegal
by Eric Buteyn

Ecology Action Headquarters

Former EA Intern Fatou, watering the many beds at Fankanta, the main demonstration site in Senegal

Eric Buteyn, Common Ground Mini-Farm manager, and 3-year apprentice Renee Bussenger raised the funds to spend two weeks in Senegal with recently graduated intern N'deye Fatou Diawara and her husband Lamine Diawara, a 2012 EA intern, to provide support and exchange information on how the interns are functioning back in their real world.

Now that I am back in Willits after an incredible two weeks in Senegal, sand is on my mind. The clayey soil here at the mini-farm, now saturated by recent rainfall, couldn't be more different than the soil we encountered at multiple locations throughout Senegal. Visibly not much different than dry beach sand, this soil actually contains some fertility, enough for regular crops of cassava, peanuts, and millet to be grown. But even though the soils are so different, it's beautiful how the principles of GROW BIOINTENSIVE apply in both situations.

It is equally critical in both locations to grow enough carbon-producing crops in order to apply adequate amounts of compost annually. This will help bind the sandy soil together (and make our clayey soil more friable) and hold on to water and nutrients, thereby supporting higher yields. Both Fatou and Lamine are actively sharing the ideas of closed-loop manual farming that they learned here in Willits, with people all over Senegal. It was very exciting for us to see the numbers of people they've connected with already and how many beds have been double-dug and planted throughout the country. It's rewarding to measure the effect of the energy of teachers and staff here, on people so far away. There are many yet to be reached throughout West Africa, but Lamine and Fatou are off to a great start, and now that we have a better understanding of what they're up against, our partnership is even stronger!


Members of Oasis GROW BIOINTENSIVE, the newly formed association,
came together for a special work day and to meet Eric and Renee

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