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Elementary school and eco village in Africa, and I'll take all the suggestions I can get!  RSS feed

 
pollinator
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I started a school this year in Chad, the center of Africa. I'm putting this in the 'eco-village' forum because the school grounds include teacher housing.

So far We've planted just a few trees, made a pile of compost and dug a terraced pit. The pit will be gardens, but the excavated dirt is being used to make compressed earth blocks.

This is one of the most threatened ecosystems of the world by climate change and poor agricultural practices. It's also one of the most promising ecosystems; with irrigation it can grow food year 'round; with year 'round sun we can grow lots of stuff. That means lots of mulch, lots of biomass, and lots of food. Given the amount of sun and we have the fertility motor is incredible. But given the amount of heat we have it is extremely easy to destroy the ecology.

So this school is starting from the bottom up in every way. The kids love it. Here are a few pics. I would particularly be interested in how you would design the terraced pit.
   

   

   

   
 
pollinator
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Hi Nathan.  The pics don't come through for me, not sure about anyone else.
 
Nathanael Szobody
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Timothy Markus wrote:Hi Nathan.  The pics don't come through for me, not sure about anyone else.



Hmm, you're right. I'm on a mobile device here in the bush so I don't have the "image" button that's on the desktop screen when posting. Can anyone help with this?
 
pollinator
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Same here - no pics, just icons.

sounds like an amazing opportunity!
 
Nathanael Szobody
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Alright, got the pics up on the OP. Thanks for your help, and sorry to have distracted from the main point of this thread: a brand new project that has lots of potential for the people and agriculture of Chad.

As I mentioned above, I'm really interested in thoughts on developing the terraced put garden. I'm pretty sure I will have to reinforce the side of the terraces with brick. And we should have a water tower within a year, so drip line is in order. Only I can't get it in country--it will have to be shipped in.
 
pollinator
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I think a windbreak and animal protection will be needed. A bunch of thorn trees might be ideal.

If shade is needed, consider moringa trees because they will grow really fast and give good shade within 6 months. You won't be giving up food production to get this canopy, because the leaves and seed pods are edible.
 
Nathanael Szobody
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Thanks Dale! Animal protection is a must. Here's my problem: goats love the leaves of all thorn trees! I have yet to find a good living hedge here that goats won't eat AND that will survive eight months of dry season.

You're spot on with the moringa. Just last week the kids used their hard-earned compost to plant about thirty Moringa seeds in pots. Come rainy season they will be transplanted. However, moringa never produce any shade here because leaves are so tastey I'm hoping if I attain a certain critical mass of them then we can get ahead of the human grazers. The upside is that I could cover the entire plot of land with moringa and still grow other stuff under it. Even when it's in full lead it's only partial shade.

Windbreaks... Good idea. I suppose eucalyptus and neem would do the trick. Even though I don't really like either one of them... Any other ideas for windbreaks?
 
pioneer
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What is the water supply situation like? I am a supporter of sand dams in your type of climate. A concrete dam across a seasonal watercourse. When the rains come the dam traps water and sand behind it. Over a few flood events the dam fills with sand completely. The sand holds a huge amount of water, which can be dug to get drinking water. But it also percolates from the river into the surrounding soil and rehydrates the overall landscape.

Too many water project depend on shallow wells that actually end up lowering the local water tables.

Dale has mentioned windbreak, and the need for mulch/shade etc... you might look into vetiver grass hedges. Once established they will survive your dry periods and give you copious mulch, but they also do an excellent job at slowing surface water flow during flood/rain events, and trap sediment building soil.
 
Nathanael Szobody
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Thanks Michael,

Our land is flat and sandy, so no seasonal waterways. We get 80 cm of rain in about three to four months, so in some of those huge ones there is some surface flow. But a few swales keep that in place.

I appreciate your concern about lowering the water table through irrigation. The way I calculate it, our water tower will hold 8000 liters. If we fill it once a day we're only using a quarter of the water that falls on the property. I figure that's pretty decent as long as we're keeping every drop that falls on the property.

I don't plan on huge mango orchards or anything like that that take loads of irrigation. The systems will be anchored with perennial semi-succulents and perennial leguminous trees. I am already experimenting with this in a 50x50 meter plot on my land.  I have rows of moringa, cassava, chaya and pigeon pea with a few pithecelobium dulce, cassia and Albizia scattered throughout. That system has done well for one year and produced copious mulch so I'm ready to expand it to the school property. Once that system is established I plan on coming behind and adding high value trees like guava and pomegranite and cherimoya.

I'd love to do vetiver grass rows. Here we have several perennial bunch grasses that would work, but I have not had success multiplying them from seed. My current thought is that I could cut wild clumps in half and transplant them, leaving the other half in the ground to keep growing. Do you think this would work?

But the terraced pit is where my imagination is running right now. I hope for a rain forest micro-climate.
 
Michael Cox
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Vetiver is propogated by division of clumps, not by seed. That is one of its most advantageous features - it stays where you plant it and does not spread.

Many regions worldwide now how people growing it, and propagating it to sell. If you can’t find someone with a dedicated nursery you might find someone who has planted it and will let you divide a clump. The earlier you get started with it, the sooner you will be able to make your own divisions for further planting.

You describe your land as flat and sandy. I would consider planting vetiver hedgerows on what contour there is, and cultivating the land in between in strips. The. When you cut the vetiver hedges the leaves can be spread right where they are cut as a mulch. It will help sink what rain you have and go a long way to building soil and conserving soil moisture.
 
Nathanael Szobody
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My terraced pit has produces quite a circular mound of topsoil around it. So I'm actually creating slope in the land. I thought maybe some semi-circular swales radiation from that mound with crop space in between. But with this vetiver idea, I might just make shallow temporary swales with vetiver at the base of it's berm.

The only fault in this plan is that perennial grasses are prized for woven mats and thatch roofs. I doubt I'll have much mulch
 
Michael Cox
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You might have a good product to sell in that case!
 
Dale Hodgins
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If there are lots of thorny type bushes growing on scrubland nearby, you might harvest those thorn trees and let the goats eat what they will, then drive stakes all around the garden plot, to stop them from being moved by the wind. Any junk organic material could be woven into it or laid against it, so that you would have a fence / windbreak in one.

I've had my fiance in the Philippines check out uses for Moringa trees, and people use them to support other crops like bitter gourd and string beans. When planted close enough together, sticks can be run between the tops so that anything with a vine can interlace those tops to create a fairly dense canopy. Beans, loofah and a dozen other things. Let them grow right to the ground along the perimeter of your garden so that it's like a giant igloo. The string beans and other thing will bear the brunt of the wind that makes it past the windbreak. So things growing in the pit will have some shade and wind protection.

I'm sure that I will create some of this instant canopy for myself, when I build my house there. When something like this is grown right up to the house, the walls don't get so hot. Most homes go with a ceiling about 10 ft tall, so that hot air has somewhere to go. The roof overhang keep sun off the upper walls, so the only part that is generally heated by the Sun is the wall within six feet of the ground. My grey water system will be used to keep these trees going.
 
Nathanael Szobody
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Dale Hodgins wrote:If there are lots of thorny type bushes growing on scrubland nearby, you might harvest those thorn trees and let the goats eat what they will, then drive stakes all around the garden plot, to stop them from being moved by the wind. Any junk organic material could be woven into it or laid against it, so that you would have a fence / windbreak in one.



People do that here too, but the termites are so active it's only good for six months. So it gets pretty labor intensive to keep cutting and hauling thorns.

Dale Hodgins wrote:I've had my fiance in the Philippines check out uses for Moringa trees, and people use them to support other crops like bitter gourd and string beans. When planted close enough together, sticks can be run between the tops so that anything with a vine can interlace those tops to create a fairly dense canopy. Beans, loofah and a dozen other things. Let them grow right to the ground along the perimeter of your garden so that it's like a giant igloo. The string beans and other thing will bear the brunt of the wind that makes it past the windbreak. So things growing in the pit will have some shade and wind protection.



That's brilliant! I'll definitely have to try that. Right now my living shade hedge is made out of chaya. Also very effective, but not as strong as moringa. There's a tribe here that calls moringa the "fence tree" so you can guess how they used to use it.

 
Dale Hodgins
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For maximum leaf production, it is often cut short. I wonder if it could be partially cut and then bent over as in hedge laying. And then maybe try burying some of the branches so that it roots. It would be nice to find something vining and thorny that goats won't eat, but that may be a tall order.
 
Nathanael Szobody
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Dale Hodgins wrote:It would be nice to find something vining and thorny that goats won't eat, but that may be a tall order.



Yeah, nothing like that here. My next strategy is to use some semi succulents. Just stick the sticks in the ground real close together in rainy season and see if the don't grow into a hedge.

If course, I could buy fence too.
 
Nathanael Szobody
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Today the kids used the compost that they made over the last few weeks to plant a chaya hedge around a teacher's house. The hedge will shade the wall, and the leaves are delicious in local stews!

   

   
 
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https://qcat.wocat.net/en/summary/1359/?as=html
you may want to get inspired with what the ngo newTree is doing in Burkina Faso, see the link above.

You may also want to check out this document on living fences in Nigeria
https://www.misereor.org/fileadmin//user_upload/misereor_org/Publications/englisch/fencing-agricultural-land-in-nigeria.pdf

For how long do you intend to stay?
 
pollinator
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I don't have any suggestions, but I think you are awesome for what you are doing. Is there a way to send seeds or small donations?
 
Nathanael Szobody
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Dan Allen wrote:I don't have any suggestions, but I think you are awesome for what you are doing. Is there a way to send seeds or small donations?



Very kind of you Dan The nice thing is we have all the seeds we need to do some really great stuff! It's just going to take a lot of time to do it... Otherwise there is a donation page on our website meube.org
 
Nathanael Szobody
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hans muster wrote:https://qcat.wocat.net/en/summary/1359/?as=html
you may want to get inspired with what the ngo newTree is doing in Burkina Faso, see the link above.

You may also want to check out this document on living fences in Nigeria
https://www.misereor.org/fileadmin//user_upload/misereor_org/Publications/englisch/fencing-agricultural-land-in-nigeria.pdf

For how long do you intend to stay?



Thanks for the resources Hans! I've been here for four years. I plan on staying for the long term.

The NewTree project used chain link fence to protect their thorn hedge. The thorn species they use are native here as well--and all greatly appreciated by goats! So at the end of the day, we just need a fence. The misereor article is reasoning along the same lines that I have, but they have not implemented anything.

My experience is that implementation is MUCH more complicated than the theory--especially when people are involved. I started this project by planting African mahogany and wild ficus trees along two borders of the property, each surrounded by chickenwire fence. So at night the neighbors just walked by and broke the tips off. Each time they started to grow back they would break them off again. So i wonder if a living hedge could ever get established.
 
Nathanael Szobody
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I don't have a scanner, so this is a photo of my school property design. School buildings on the right, housing in the left, crops and good forest in between.

I'd love to get suggestions for improvements!


 
 
hans muster
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Hi,
Yeah, the human factor… I am also involved in a project for a few years already, I sometimes think it needs sometimes a whole generation to change a mindset. Technically it would be sooooo easy. 😊
Could you get why the tips of the Ficus are snipped off? Is it viewed as a “bad” plant? Are they afraid that you want to poison them? Do they not want you to “succeed”?
You probably know the movie of Yacouba Sawadogo, otherwise he inspired a lot of people in and around the Sahel
Bonne chance
 
Nathanael Szobody
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Hi Hans,

I'm not sure why they keep breaking the saplings. I think it has more to do with teenagers proving they can bother me ...
 
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Yes !   See pages 20 & 21 of the attached.  They got me really excited to put some of these together.

Hope this works for you.  Even though it is not new information, I see it as a game changer for our future.

Best of Everything to you and your work and children.

P
Filename: Aquaponics-Growing-Fish-and-Plants-Together.pdf
File size: 3 megabytes
 
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You have probably seen this concept before. Not very useful to me presently in green and rainy Canada, but interesting- hopefully something helps!

Termite/zai pits and pebble trails in Burkina Faso - I can't find the original article I read unfortunately,  as it was more detailed. There was a picture in the original article of a field of brown with green clumps in a pattern.

https://www.siani.se/blog/re-greening-sahel-anneli-sundin/

http://harvardpolitics.com/world/wall-or-mosaic-fighting-desertification-in-the-sahel/

http://www.ipsnews.net/2011/10/africa-the-man-who-stopped-the-desert/

https://www.forbes.com/sites/terrywaghorn/2011/03/07/fighting-desertification/#184d9ee85fd7


As for the human factors... definitely not qualified to help. Teenagers/ humans are hard!
 
pollinator
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Nathanael Szobody wrote:Thanks Michael,

Our land is flat and sandy, so no seasonal waterways. We get 80 cm of rain in about three to four months, so in some of those huge ones there is some surface flow. But a few swales keep that in place.

...

But the terraced pit is where my imagination is running right now. I hope for a rain forest micro-climate.



I am posting links to Gabe Brown's videos on pasture-based agriculture. In these videos, Gabe outlines how the system conserves water and increases infiltration rates. You will want to research your native grasses and forbes to determine the exact mix of species that you will want to establish for this "no-plow/no-till" system, which uses the livestock as "mowers" and "fertilizer spreaders". One of the most important key elements is to always have something growing in your soil, even if the plant litter is left to protect the soil organisms during the dry season.

Gabe's contact information appears at the end of one of these video posts, or in the comments on YouTube. I hope you can access them. I hope this deluge of information is not too overwhelming.You can establish the grasses to secure and start building the soil over the entire acreage, and also establish the tree- based food-forest in specific zones as time goes on. The point is that a food forest can also be established as a "prairie/savanna ecosystem too.

The pasture-based agriculture has been used in Africa and all over the world. For food plants, you can plant them right in the pasture, without any plowing or tilling, because you select the pasture species to provide the resources that feed your food plants. Treating your farm as an ecosystem is how you develop and maintain the soil and the underground storage of the 80 inches of water your receive.

Gabe Brown
Sustainable Farming and Ranching in a Hotter, Drier Climate by Gabe Brown
https://Gabe Brown
Sustainable Farming and Ranching in a Hotter, Drier Climate by Gabe Brown
https://youtu.be/O394wQ_vb3s

Grow things, for as long as possible, all year
Focus on Mycorrhizal fungi
Use the Haney Soil Test
The Haney test was developed by Rick Haney of United States Department of Agriculture-Ag Research Service in Temple, Texas. 
https://solvita.com/soil/
https://agcrops.osu.edu/newsletter/corn-newsletter/2019-07/haney-test-soil-health
https://www.agriculture.com/crops/hey-soil-test-c-help-producers-maximize_135-ar44924

What is the Soil Resource you are trying to improve?
No Till
Mixed species cover crops
Integrate livestock

GFE 2016 - Gabe Brown "Cover Crops for Grazing"
https://youtu.be/tuwwfL2o9d4
Gabe Brown
Treating the Farm as an Ecosystem
Part One:
https://youtu.be/uUmIdq0D6-A
Part Two:
https://youtu.be/RARFGkX3HBI (this one is only about 1/2 hour long. The other two in the series are about 1-1/2 hours long.
Part Three:
https://youtu.be/QwoGCDdCzeU

The Grass-fed Exchange
www.grassfedexchange.com

What’s the biology in your soil? (How do you determine your biology?)
85-90% of plant nutrient acquisition is microbial mediated

Liquid Carbon Pathway (Dr Christine Jones)

Homework:
www.greencoverseed.com
Smartmix calculator
Midwest Cover Crop Council
SARE
REPUTABLE Seed suppliers (What are YOUR resource concerns?)

Regenerative agriculture is more than just growing cash crops or just raising grass-fed animals. Besides using the land as pasture, the land use is a part of an integrated agricultural system that actually stores carbon and water, while recycling the minerals in the soil. the reductionist process used by the usual economic analysis does not even count these valuable non-cash-producing yields.

Carbon is the primary driver for soil fertility AND soil moisture
Cover crops should be seeded as diverse polycultures
Monoculture cover crops are weak & detrimental to soil health
Fungi provide the nutritional and energy needs of all the plants
Armor the soil with crop residue an cover crops (bare soil is dead soil)
Land Grant Agricultural colleges do not yet teach these methods because those colleges have been “captured” by the producers of agricultural inputs, such as GMO seeds, and synthetic fertilizers, pesticides, and herbicides.

Growing Topsoil is a biological process
+ Photosynthesis
+ Translocation of atmospheric nitrogen and carbon into the plant roots and to the soil
+ Consumed by Microbes
+ Microbes feed the plants via their microbes
+ Plants feed the microbes with liquid carbon

Mycorrhizal fungi are the KING of humification (and N  & P availability)
Tillage destroys the pore spaces and the mycorrhizal fungi that form soil aggregates + no soil infiltration  = dead soil.
Aggregated soils look like black cottage cheese or chocolate cake
It’s not how much rainfall you get, it’s how much can infiltrate into your soils and be stored there by organic Matter!: This is Effective rainfall!
Sustainable Farming and Ranching in a Hotter, Drier Climate by Gabe Brown
https://youtu.be/O394wQ_vb3s

GFE 2016 - Gabe Brown "Cover Crops for Grazing"
https://youtu.be/O394wQ_vb3s

Gabe Brown (7zero1) 5two7-557three
E-mail: brownranch(at)bektel(dot)com
Paul Brown (7zero1) 5Two7-557three Paul is Gabe's son)
E-mail: paul_brown_24(at)hotmail.com
Website: www.brownsranch.us
www.grassfedexchange.com


 
Nathanael Szobody
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Thanks for the links!

Land degradation is a huge issue here as well, and the people of this tribe have not begin to think about solutions for it. So planting trees is front and center in our strategy. You can see my design above for reference.

I think aquaponics is awesome! At this point I'm not on the ground 100% of the time so I'm not ready to set up and maintain such a delicate system. Maybe when we have some high schoolers to train into it... Even so, fish food is going to be a challenge.

As for grazing livestock, this may work once the trees are a little bigger. I think paddocking some milk goats would be a great project for the kids. We don't have an issue with infiltration though--the land is real sandy!

Something I should mention: we get eight months without a drop of rain. And then we get 80 cm / 31.5 inches in four months. So far, I have not seen any permaculture system in such a climate. There are no "pastures" to speak of in the dry season. Cattle forage dry grass, crop residue and tree leaves during that time. And all high value trees must be irrigated by hand. If my main goal was growing forest, that would be easy with local wild species, but a high value food forest is another ball game. Perhaps I'll write a book some day...

We're digging some swales right now, not for water catchment as much as mulch catchment and irrigation retention: we plant trees IN the swales here. I might post a picture of that at some point, but my internet isn't working well enough right now :-(
 
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Wow you guys are doing great work out there. These kids have a great opportunity to grow things and grow with the land. Over time I think some may feel more invested in this and protect the lil saplings. Thank you for your good work. Best wishes.
 
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..allways thought aquaponics xould be a great fit for low water and organic matter areas, as the fish feed plants that filter water for fish on closed loop system. Bless on!
 
Mark Kissinger
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Nathanael Szobody wrote:Thanks for the links!

Land degradation is a huge issue here as well, and the people of this tribe have not begin to think about solutions for it. So planting trees is front and center in our strategy. You can see my design above for reference.

...

As for grazing livestock, this may work once the trees are a little bigger. I think paddocking some milk goats would be a great project for the kids. We don't have an issue with infiltration though--the land is real sandy!

Something I should mention: we get eight months without a drop of rain. And then we get 80 cm / 31.5 inches in four months. So far, I have not seen any Permaculture system in such a climate. There are no "pastures" to speak of in the dry season. Cattle forage dry grass, crop residue and tree leaves during that time. And all high value trees must be irrigated by hand. If my main goal was growing forest, that would be easy with local wild species, but a high value food forest is another ball game. Perhaps I'll write a book some day...

We're digging some swales right now, not for water catchment as much as mulch catchment and irrigation retention: we plant trees IN the swales here. I might post a picture of that at some point, but my internet isn't working well enough right now :-(



You are so lucky to be able to pioneer this sort of work in Africa. I only wish I was 50 years younger and had my youthful health!

The YouTube videos give some African sources for the pasture-based techniques. A big part of building up to soil lies in keeping the livestock from eating the paddocks down to bare earth. Even during the dormant dry season, steps must be taken to armor the soil and keep it from getting so hot that the soil organisms die off. Plants can store enormous amounts of water underground. When selecting your plants, select for plants that have deep, juicy roots, which can survive a long drought even when their tops have been grazed off. Africa has an even bigger problem in that there doesn't seem to be much "extra" organic matter available due to population pressures, and overgrazing. One thing that might work is to create field-size shade (your trees will help with that) that will keep the soil cooler during the drought times.

31.5 inches is a LOT of water, if you can grow a system of storing it underground in the roots of plants. Even sandy soils can have slow infiltration rates. You can test your soil to see what that rate is by using a simple coffee can with both ends cut off. Secure the can in the soil, and time how fast the soil absorbs the water. By calculating the volume of the can, you can calculate how fast the water infiltrates. This makes a good, practical math lesson, as well!

If any water runs off your land, the infiltration rate is not fast enough. Since water moves underground, you need to produce a large amount of living organic matter to absorb AND HOLD the water in the subsurface where it can be used by the plants throughout the dry season. Plants like daikon radishes store a lot of water in their pulpy roots. They are originally from Japan and apparently come in varieties that are used for eating, pickling, and for forage, and as tillage.

Here's a good link for them: http://www.territorialseed.com/product/Groundhog_Daikon_Radish_Cover_Crop_Seed/brassica_cover_crop

Brassicas are a genus of plant that make good cover crops, and also perform some important services, such as accumulating the nitrogen that your companion-plant nitrogen fixers draw from the air.  Understanding the soil health of your land is very important. Using the Haney soil test (see my other post for the link) can identify what you particular soil may be lacking. It will also let you scientifically monitor your progress.

I recommend dividing up your land into test plots to try out different techniques scientifically to see which plan works the best in your situation. Once you find plants that work for you. SAVE YOUR SEEDS! so you can make your own heirloom varieties that are adapted to conditions in your area.

I'm sure there are similar native species that do the same thing. This water is released into to soil during the drought. In Permaculture, the first principle is to observe. Teach your students to observe the local native vegetation and see if they can not find suitable plants to use that will act as water storage for your fields.

This is very difficult when there are too many livestock for the ability of the land to support without causing desertification. Humans must find ways to reduce the size of their herds during the dry spells, in order to keep living plants alive in the soil. Setting up trees to grow as livestock fodder may be a way to accomplish this feat! But be encouraged: this HAS been done in Africa! Solar stoves can possibility reduce the need to burn trees for cooking. I wish I had a bunch of money that could be used to get the ball rolling. When people have very little, it only takes a little bit of extra wind or solar energy to give a whole village a big boost!

Many of the Western European agricultural methods are actually the cause for desertification. Pasture-based agriculture is able to turn these mistakes around in a very short time. Please be sure to personally contact all of the people who are mentioned in the links I posted, because every region will need specialized adaptations.
 
Nathanael Szobody
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I'll try out the videos in a few months when I'm in the city and have better internet. Thanks!

I've used solar ovens. My son made cookies in ours last week. They're great!... Until a cloud moves over the sun. "Sorry kids, no dinner tonight; there was a cloud." Not the sort of thing I can promote to the local women!
 
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Nathanael Szobody wrote:I'll try out the videos in a few months when I'm in the city and have better internet. Thanks!

I've used solar ovens. My son made cookies in ours last week. They're great!... Until a cloud moves over the sun. "Sorry kids, no dinner tonight; there was a cloud." Not the sort of thing I can promote to the local women!



Well, they can always finish the baking the old way if needed. Anytime you can save a bit of fuel makes a difference. Another point to remember is to control the size of your herd based on the forage available during the dry spell.

Over time. devote some of your pasture to be "saved" for the dry season needs of your fertile females of each breed, and a good male or two to be used for stud.
 
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Nathanael, I am an African so I have some empathy towards the vagaries of the cultures. I've never been to Chad, but am extremely well travelled in sub Zaire to SAfrica.

You have a lot of interesting questions and conundrums, all of which I will put some thought into.

The saplings: are you the chap asking for advice on why the kids / teens are breaking them? If so, have you spoken to the village Elders about this problem?
 
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Hi Lito,

Thanks for the input! I will definitely value your insights. The trees in question are mainly African Mahogany (Khaya senegalensis), and some local people say they harbor bad spirits. The people who are breaking them are actually not the native population; they are immigrants who have moved up in the past generation. And you are right: I should just walk over and ask their chief if he understands what they are doing. Eventually we will have a fence around the place, but it would be good to understand their thinking a little better.
 
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Mark Kissinger wrote:
Over time. devote some of your pasture to be "saved" for the dry season needs of your fertile females of each breed, and a good male or two to be used for stud.



You have some good ideas Mark. And it really underscores how different the climate and culture are here.

Here people do not own pasture. They own fields that they cultivate, but if it is not cultivated it's fair game for anyone's herds. Even if I do not graze the land I own any number of nomadic herdsmen will come through and help themselves--sometimes they do that even when there are ripe crops standing in the field!

I assure you, when I have found an integrated social permaculture system for this context I will be writing the book!
 
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We've been working on compost and moringa trees this semester. They even took a few seeds home. Sulieman proudly brought back his own moringa sprouts a few days later and have them to the school.

   
 
Mark Kissinger
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Nathanael Szobody wrote:

Mark Kissinger wrote:
Over time. devote some of your pasture to be "saved" for the dry season needs of your fertile females of each breed, and a good male or two to be used for stud.



You have some good ideas Mark. And it really underscores how different the climate and culture are here.

Here people do not own pasture. They own fields that they cultivate, but if it is not cultivated it's fair game for anyone's herds. Even if I do not graze the land I own any number of nomadic herdsmen will come through and help themselves--sometimes they do that even when there are ripe crops standing in the field!

I assure you, when I have found an integrated social permaculture system for this context I will be writing the book!



That is so sad because it is going to end with the desertification of the entire commons area. I see so much bare earth in your pictures! The pasture-based regenerative agriculture actually needs the livestock services at certain times, but I can understand that to a nomadic herder, it will make no sense to leave material on the ground when their herd is starving.  I suppose this is endemic to areas like yours with very little cooperation among the various groups.

I suppose the one possible solution is to talk to the elders of the nomadic groups and offer them your fields when you need the mowing services of the nomads' herds before planting your crop. Maybe with a education program that includes the nomadic groups, a regional grazing plan could be devised to coordinate the grazing of all of the fields in an area. It is my failing that I do not have the experience of living in the region.

It is a common situation that individual use of the commons ruins the resource for everyone. This is what usually happens. I believe I have heard of someone in Africa who was able to initiate a such coordination plan which was able to get cooperation to integrate the nomad's needs into the plan. I will try to find that information. If I can, I will forward the information to you on this forum.
 
Nathanael Szobody
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It looks like a dessert in the pictures because we're in the seventh month of dry season! Give it three months and those same locations will look like a rain forest ecology. Right now everything is dormant. But that dirt is loaded with seeds, and all the organic material has been eaten by livestock or termites. In the case of termites, the material has been digested and integrated with the soil so that as soon as the rains hit there is an explosion of fertile greenery. Even though it looks like a desert, there are about 13 inches of topsoil there. It's just sandy topsoil.

There are actually loads of trees there too, but people cut them to the ground for planting. Once I let them go they'll spring back up in the rainy season from the dormant root stock.
 
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