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My task: turning barren land into a food garden for disempowered women and girls in India

 
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Hello fellow plant lovers and permies!

I am currently volunteering at a grassroots organization in Jodhpur, India. Their aim is to empower and give support to greatly suppressed women and girls. This organization does *so* much, but one aspect I'll briefly share is that they sponsor 50 girls to live in one of their boarding homes (they have two). These girls are able to go to school and live in a safe environment that allow personal growth and peace.

I recently sat down with the founder of the organization to share an idea I had since before I even got here. I would like to establish a food garden for the girls at the boarding home to use. This would allow fresh, organic food in their boarding home kitchen and allow the girls to have another place they can safely go to. Plus, I think gardens are healing places and these girls have gone through so much. Not to mention...being able to sustain yourself is incredibly empowering.

He loved my idea and MAGICALLY already had land that could be used for this goal. So, now my dream is to build this food garden. I only have three weeks left here and then will go back home in the states. I will fundraise and research how to turn this barren land into the food garden supportive of these girls. I will then return in November to begin and execute the plan.

My first thought is I could build and heal the soil while I'm still here. Also, of course, visit this plot of land as much as possible to really read it and understand it. However, I am a newbie to desert growing!!! My experience in growing comes from the mid-west and in Guatemala. I'm trying to find people I can reach out who have sustainably healed desert-like lands. Anyone have any suggestions? Water storage and catching will be crucial as well...
 
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This sounds like a noble effort and I wish you great success with it.

You are probably familiar with Geoff Lawton. He has some very good videos concerning his efforts in Jordan.

This sounds like quite an undertaking, so I think the most important thing for success is that you make sure that others share your vision and are willing to help. It would also be a good idea to create a spot now, where every bit of organic waste can be piled. You are going to need lots of compost and mulch. Maybe the girls could be enlisted to gather materials from a vegetable market or other places where it accumulates. They can bring it home to feed chickens and then you'd have more material.

Is this a place for orphans, or girls who have been abused in some way? No matter what their situation, it can really build self-esteem if they are able to participate in the creation of something good, and see the results and reap the benefits. So you want to make sure the person in charge is behind you 100% and can make sure that you don't run short of labor.

A spot like this needs to produce food but I think it would also be nice to have some seating and maybe a place to have lunch. I hope you'll include some trees as well as row crops or whatever is planned. There are some things that will give you a canopy very quickly.

From a technical point of view, your greatest challenge will be securing year round water. So you want to have that sorted out because without it you don't know how extensive the garden can be.
 
pollinator
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The website lost my first attempt at responding to your question. (loud sounds of frustration emit from my lips) LOL!

Water is a foundational concern. The adage is "Slow the water, Spread the water, and Sink the water". In a desert, you must think in terms of capturing all the rainwater that touches your land.

If you control where the water goes, you will know where to plant your Food Forest garden guilds (a plant guild is a collection of plants that create a symbiotic web of mutual support).

Brad Lancasters' two-volume tomes on Rainwater Harvesting will serve as your bible for supplying water for your garden. They are available on Amazon.com and Chelseagreen.com, among other online resources. Other books include Stella Otto's books about orchards and berries. Look at some of the other "greening-the Desert" threads for links that I have posted pointing to videos and articles on Restorative Pastures and Intensive Livestock Management.

You need to set for your new gardeners the task of observing the land and plan how best to use the whole property. Then determine a plan of development that starts with small steps that following actions can build on. For instance, some areas may be suitable as pastures at first as a method for restoring larger tracts of poor soil. If a self-sustaining pasture can be established, it may be possible to offer livestock herding services to local livestock owners, which could provide funding for other garden projects.

Establish a place to compost all organic materials, such as food scraps, manure from livestock, and other restorative gardening techniques, such as restorative pastures and intensive livestock management techniques. I have posted links on some of the other threads on this site.

Figure out where your "food trees" and "nurturing trees" can best be established, and plant your rainwater harvest where it will support those trees. Those trees will serve as the "Anchor Plants" for the rest of your food-forest plant guilds.

Early on, establish a "seed-saving" library and a system for saving seeds, and a plan for collecting cuttings to propagate new plants from existing perennial food plants. Also, create a library for books on gardening that can help your charges to research and teach themselves in your absence. Perhaps you can get some donations of books from the many experts on this site. The garden project should be integrated into any literacy project that may already be in place.

I am a "soils and water" guy, I hope the plant experts will soon chime in on the best plants to use. Observe what the other farmers in the area plant, but also observe what native food plants are supporting the local wildlife.

I will cut this comment short, but be sure to reply with any more specific questions that your situation brings up. Good luck in all of your endeavors.

 
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For garden beds perhaps you should look into depressed garden beds. These are gardens that are sunken into the ground. you'd also want to mulch. Alongside plants like squashes to shade out the ground and keep in moisture. if you plan on putting in trees you'll need something to shade the ground in the meantime. Zai pits would be something to consider. Along with other things swales might be useful but also terracing any hills
 
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Nicole Karpus wrote:Hello fellow plant lovers and permies!

I am currently volunteering at a grassroots organization in Jodhpur, India. Their aim is to empower and give support to greatly suppressed women and girls. This organization does *so* much, but one aspect I'll briefly share is that they sponsor 50 girls to live in one of their boarding homes (they have two). These girls are able to go to school and live in a safe environment that allow personal growth and peace.

I recently sat down with the founder of the organization to share an idea I had since before I even got here. I would like to establish a food garden for the girls at the boarding home to use. This would allow fresh, organic food in their boarding home kitchen and allow the girls to have another place they can safely go to. Plus, I think gardens are healing places and these girls have gone through so much. Not to mention...being able to sustain yourself is incredibly empowering.

He loved my idea and MAGICALLY already had land that could be used for this goal. So, now my dream is to build this food garden. I only have three weeks left here and then will go back home in the states. I will fundraise and research how to turn this barren land into the food garden supportive of these girls. I will then return in November to begin and execute the plan.

My first thought is I could build and heal the soil while I'm still here. Also, of course, visit this plot of land as much as possible to really read it and understand it. However, I am a newbie to desert growing!!! My experience in growing comes from the mid-west and in Guatemala. I'm trying to find people I can reach out who have sustainably healed desert-like lands. Anyone have any suggestions? Water storage and catching will be crucial as well...





Hi Nicole,
are you still on this project?
How is it growing?

or where have you moved to?
Especially given the covid-climate and calamity associated with that in the last 2 years.
Or did you hand it on to other servant and passionate eco trasformers, and you have pionneers somewhere else?

I trust the womens project empowers the women to fight for more freedom to grow and feed their families, and self determination to aspire to all they need and want that paves a betters/ best way forward for the next generation, the community surrounding them, including the virtual community and inspires more women seeking transformation to follow suit in their context.

Joyce
 
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What about disempowered men and boys? there are a lot very poor boys and men as well, also because of the caste system, but in general, poverty also definitively hits both genders. And pollution, overuse of pesticides and chemicals hits both men and women working in the fields or living in the vicinity.
 
pollinator
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Hey,

What your doing is so Awesome! I mainly just want to encourage you!

In regards to using this forum,
I believe, that in order to get the most out of the wealth of information among the people in it!

You first need to provide photos, of the space.
and information about what food the Women and girls like to eat would be great,
What resources are available, Human power, Money, time, animals.

I also would like to check that the main goal is to have a great space, where the Women and girls, Feel comfortable, and for there well being!

My first though is that transforming the soil is the first stage, but the end goal is a great space, of beauty and abundance, with Mandela's, some walled gardens,

But also a lot of room to walk around, as well as calm places to sit and talk! Places for children to have fun and be kids,

Some solar sensor lights, for safety.

Trees, having the branches cut several feet above head height to be able to see through, and run through.

Some flowers, that the little girls can pick and play with.

But if its for nutrition to help with education, like Geoff Lawton worked on in Vanuatu.
It would be a totally different design!

In summary,
I believe this community really wants to encourage and support you (with wisdom) in your honourable plans! And I think would be best to help provide information so that this community can provide more Precise advice for your circumstances!

Kind regards,
Alex





 
Joyce Harris
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Lana Weldon wrote:What about disempowered men and boys? there are a lot very poor boys and men as well, also because of the caste system, but in general, poverty also definitively hits both genders. And pollution, overuse of pesticides and chemicals hits both men and women working in the fields or living in the vicinity.



Yes, I agree with you and others that ALL PEOPLE, need to freedom from everyday poverty and everyday violence and everyday shame and everyday reminders that (caste system) they can never be more than they are born into existence.  Identifying the challenge is one things, but further more identifying " What am I prepared to so to assist others that ARE ALREADY addressing that or similar challenges in context where I without language, nuances, culture or visa cannot do?"

In recentl years I invested as pro bono 9 months with International Justice Mission who happens to be our largest antitrafficking group in our global village. They and their model is brilliant, yet as with all humans activity nothing is perfect, all the time. But they are brilliant at what they do as with other groups and orgs in their variations of the same mission.

Finding our niche of where we want to HELP by giving or going or fundraising in our communities once a year, or supporting in some other way/s is key.  

I wonder what others are passionate about despite perm.s in this vain?
What you have done towards resourcing or of your time?
Or still are?

It can be locally or abroad?
The priorities in ensuring food for the body, soul and spirit are endless.
We all have our passion piece, whether we pursue it or not, yet it is on our heart no matter where we go or what happens. Sometimes it turns up, when we are most DOWN, and it says a common and sometimes helpful but not always helpful tune "there are others worse off that me". And it enables us to pull up our socks and soldier on, which is mostly positive, and sometimes there are times that it is not, as we too need to nurture SELF, in order to be ABLE to nurture OTHERS without breaking the bank or breaking the last straw or breaking our backs etc.

BALANCE is maybe the key summary point.
KNOWING your LIMITS but NOT letting that LIMIT you unless YOU NEED TO for self CARE.

I'll step down from my soap box now.
Who's next up for SPEAKERS CORNER. LOL
 
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Lana Weldon wrote:What about disempowered men and boys? there are a lot very poor boys and men as well, also because of the caste system, but in general, poverty also definitively hits both genders. And pollution, overuse of pesticides and chemicals hits both men and women working in the fields or living in the vicinity.


Well, those are valid concerns, but this thread addresses a very specific situation.

I respectfully suggest the concerns you raise are more appropriately addressed in a separate thread.
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