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

 
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Thanks for bumping the thread Jenny. I also have enjoyed reading this (and have scattered a few apples in posts I particularly liked). Hopefully Nathanael can give us an update...
 
pollinator
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Thanks for taking the time to read, Jenny! I'm a bit late on the reply because i'm actually in the US on a "Home Assignment". But here are the photos I'm getting from the school right now.

Here is the "pit". The banana plants are coming along nicely as are the guava trees on the upper terrace. It's a fascinating experiment because we're dealing with sub-soil. Basically building top soil from scratch. I'd say afer all our efforts there is about an inch or two at this point. Slow and steady...



 

Also, we built a school building! You can see it on the right here, and the leaf cassava did beautifully this year on the left. Leaf cassava and chaya (far right) have been our best pioneers. The added green is appreciated! These are about eight months old.



 

In fact, I'm going to have to trim them back if I want those mango sapplings in the
swale to grow!



 
>

Here we have an African Mahogany (Khaya senegalensis) that ended up too close to the
fence so we're transplanting it to the center of the school yard.



 


It took very nicely, as you can see in the far right of this photo, just above the kids' heads.


 

And here is a shot of the
gardening the teachers do all year round. They do zai pits for easy watering and manure application.



 

I'm still trying to get them to appreciate
mulch, but it's a work in progress!

 
Nathanael Szobody
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I made a trip to the school in July, but haven't gotten around to posting till now. My favorite part is this lovely "waterfall"  that comes from the water tower overflow; it feeds banana trees, and then flows down into a swale where it feeds some avocado and mango trees. I don't suppose this is permaculture is it? Most of the water that doesn't get used by the trees gets back to the water table in this very sandy soil. What do you think. A waste of water resources?




Here is a google earth view in dry season. Most the trees aren't big enough to see, but there's a nice bit of greenery from the teachers' gardens.



Here is a look at what greenery there is now in the dry season. I'm fairly pleased with it. the larger stuff is fruit trees, mostly mango and guava.



This makes me happy: one of the teachers daughters gathering some leaves from the leaf cassava plants for their evening meal. Leaf cassava is a miracle plant here; it grows even through the eight months of dry season, providing perennial veg all year round. Without exagerating, if you count the perennial cassava, chaya, and moringa, plus the teachers' own family gardens, the school property already supplies several thousand meals of vegetable each year. It does make me happy....Even if my moringa trees look a little sad for it...
On the left in this picture you can see the property is surrounded with alternating mango -- support tree -- guava -- support tree -- etc.. Concomitantly, there is a row of moringa place very closely together. They're for short-term veg, and will eventually get outshaded by the other. But remember: "Obtain a yield"! Moringas allow us do that perennially in year 1. Can't beat that.



And lastly, a historic day: the first chop-n-drop of the school property! the Albizia Lebbeck on the left was chopped to mulch the mango sapplingon the right :-)

 
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So interesting! The video compared to the Google map view is such a contrast. I wouldn't imagine it looking so lush and green.

Does the water tower have water continually pumped up to it? Is that why it overflows? It certainly seems having it run into a green growing space is better than onto straight dirt to erode and evaporate.
 
Nathanael Szobody
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Hi Jenny,

The water tower overflows because it has to be turned off manually, and people just forget, or don't care. I've told them not to let it overflow more that 15 minutes or so, but I think they've kind of gotten used to it just cascading all the time.

I feel bad, because everyone else in the neighborhood has to pay monthly to be able to pump their water BY HAND at a neighborhood pump, so the constant overflow looks a bit extravagant. Still, I like my tropical rain forest waterfall
 
Nathanael Szobody
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My friend visited with his drone and took some cool shots.



 



 



And here's progress on school trees in just 1.5 years!


 

 
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This is a three-year-old thread, so don't know if you are still there. But maybe someone else will read this and maybe it might help them.

~A couple things. You have plants planted fairly close to the side of the building.  I would guess that they would get quite a lot of sun reflection off the white wall. Maybe enough to cause the plants to suffer from increased heat and increased drying of soil. Could you move them a little farther from the building side? Or maybe you could coat the lower several feet of the building with some less reflective color (mud/dung?). 2). It looks like you may be planting in a north-south alignment. That causes the plants to shade each other from the sun. Maybe that's good in high heat areas. But here in the northern climes, it's best to plant rows east to west. Then all the plants get more and equal sun. 3). The mulch you are using looks rather long and stick like. It might help to make it more effective and moisture holding to chop it up into smaller pieces. We use feed choppers for that up here. For you, machetes might do well. And it would give the kids something else to do, contribute and feel good about.

~~~I wrote this based on the first set of pictures that you posted. When I looked again, all those pictures were gone, and new ones are up. So my reply isn't exactly on point. But I'll leave it. It may not be the worst advice for others.
 
Nathanael Szobody
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Hey Jim, yep! it's a three year old thread, but I keep adding to it. Thanks for your suggestions.

1. I never thought about plants suffering from the reflective heat from the house. At the same time, it put the trees there to keep the sun from ever reaching the building wall! Most people tell me I plant too close to buildings though so I'm sure you're right. Keep the suggestions coming!

2. I generally planted in the East-West alignment, but it reality, I just plant all over the place It's also true that we don't lack for sunlight here...

3. It's true that my mulch has lots of sticks in it. I should probably chop them up like you say, but the termites are so helpful in that regard that I get lazy. I'm getting ready to chop and drop now though, so I'll put some more thought into it. In general, a piece of wood smaller than the thickness of my arm won't be around a year from now. Termites are just that voracious.

 
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