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restoring this land using permaculture methods.*photos*  RSS feed

 
musa sani
Posts: 21
Location: NW Nigeria: at the edge of the Sahara, which is moving my way. Temperatures from 30-43 C (86-115 F)
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Please,I need your suggestions on how to restore this land fertility.I want make it small organic farm and garden
.I started reading about permaculture and I hope that will help me
In this task.these are my plans
To set up a rain water catchment pond.
To make alot of compost from grasses and hay I could get and manure.
Dug some hugel beds during this raining season
Plant trees
Dug borehole
And fence it from rearing cattle.

You could help with your suggestions on how save this land.
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Michael Cox
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Location: Kent, UK - Zone 8
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Wow... Looks tough. Can you give some more info? Acres, climate, livestock etc...?
 
Kelly Smith
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hi musa

can you tell me a bit more about your location?
whats the temperature range (high and low), and what is the elevation and rainfall?


my 1 suggestion from the pictures: it appears that you need a good ground cover to help hold any moisture in the soil
 
allen lumley
pollinator
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Location: Northern New York Zone4-5 the OUTER 'RONDACs percip 36''
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Musa Sani : Jesus wept ! If it was in my power you should get a Free PDC for making the attempt ! Location, location, location, look at your Posters Name space, and
then L@@K at Mine, Consider going to the Permies Toolbox above and to the right of the permits Rotating Sun find and click on My Profile where you will be helped to
put in that information, this will help your fellow members help you with relevant information.

How much rain fall, and times of the year, elevation, and water table information !

Yes, you are going to have to bring in a lot of outside materials/supplies to your location in attempting to Green up this patch of land ! Every thing you plant initially
should have a Deep Tap Root, and stand chop and drop harvesting, as the plant dies back the root mass self adjusts to the loss of plant mass adding its own organic
matter to the soil !

The only short term solution I have much hope for is Rabbits, Their manure will not need processing to add to the land, where as chickens manure is too strong for
direct application, and needs time to work first, delaying your ability to see results, My mind is spinning as beyond mine tailings, which grew abundant Horsetail Rushes,
that helped hold the soil, ( and this was in the much wetter NorthEast ) I have no clue this is more Geof Lawtons area ! However with over 25,00 Fellow Members Word
wide, someone will be able to reach out with help !Good luck ! Big AL !
 
musa sani
Posts: 21
Location: NW Nigeria: at the edge of the Sahara, which is moving my way. Temperatures from 30-43 C (86-115 F)
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Kelly Smith wrote:hi musa

can you tell me a bit more about your location?
whats the temperature range (high and low), and what is the elevation and rainfall?


my 1 suggestion from the pictures: it appears that you need a good ground cover to help hold any moisture in the soil


Is in north western Nigeria,we have less than 1000mm of rainfall from June to October,temperature from Jan to march is between 30-35c April till dec will be around 40-43c
The soil is Sandy and lost to much of its fertile due to excess cattle grazing may use if too much fertilizer.
I'm trying to put much of what I read bout premculture into practice.
Hope this will shed more lights to The pics?
Thanks.
 
Michael Cox
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Location: Kent, UK - Zone 8
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If cattle are an option I'd be looking at Allan Savoury's work on Holistic Management. You still haven't said what size area you are working on.
 
musa sani
Posts: 21
Location: NW Nigeria: at the edge of the Sahara, which is moving my way. Temperatures from 30-43 C (86-115 F)
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Michael Cox wrote:Wow... Looks tough. Can you give some more info? Acres, climate, livestock etc...?

Less than 1000mm rainfall from June to October
Hot summer 43c
Lowest 30-35
1plus acre is sandy
Planing to grow millet,corn,beans after rainy season to grow vegetables using irrigation with saved rain water.

Thanks

 
musa sani
Posts: 21
Location: NW Nigeria: at the edge of the Sahara, which is moving my way. Temperatures from 30-43 C (86-115 F)
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Michael Cox wrote:If cattle are an option I'd be looking at Allan Savoury's work on Holistic Management. You still haven't said what size area you are working on.


Is less than 2 acres.
I did not plan on keeping cattle for now.
I'll focus on improving the fertile of this land to yield more crops.
 
Cj Sloane
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I wonder if banana circles are more appropriate for Nigeria than hugel beds? Either way, plant lots of nitrogen fixing trees. Seeds are inexpensive but you may need to protect the trees. Planting in deep holes might help.
 
John Polk
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Musa, you indeed live in a difficult region. The Sahara is trying to take your land from you.
Your rainfall (at 1,000mm) is way more than many of us here get, but it appears that your rainfall occurs at the hottest time of the year. A time of year when many plants would be struggling to survive.

With those high temperatures, evaporation will be a problem with any saved water.

You mentioned growing beans. Beans are an excellent choice in poor soils, because they have the ability to collect nitrogen from the air, and then put it into the soil. They do this best if they are properly inoculated before planting. If the land has grown beans in the past few years, the soil should already be inoculated. If they have not recently been planted there, they do need to be properly inoculated to gain their maximum value to you. If the seeds you get are not pre-inoculated, and the inoculant is not available, what I suggest is to find a near by neighbor who has grown beans. Get some soil from his bean patch. It does not need to be much. Perhaps, 1/4 of a teaspoon full per seed will be enough to get your beans started. The next crop should do even better. After that, these plants should perform at their maximum capacity.

 
Cj Sloane
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Musa, here is a great thread for you to look thru. Lots of video of people planting trees in deserts.
 
Konstantinos Karoubas
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Hello Musa,

Good luck – it looks like a challenge, but if you persevere you will turn this piece of land into a lush forest that will give you plenty of food and will turn what appears to be hopeless situation into an example of how we can restore the earth's fertility.

You need to find out what trees and shrubs and grasses like to grow on your land and plant, plenty of them. There will be some trees and shrubs that will behave like invasive weeds on your land – they will like it there so much that you will have a hard time holding them back – or they will grow without any help from you – no water shading etc. These are the plants and shrubs you want to establish on your land – once you have done that, you almost there.

Please let us know how it goes.

Kostas
 
musa sani
Posts: 21
Location: NW Nigeria: at the edge of the Sahara, which is moving my way. Temperatures from 30-43 C (86-115 F)
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Thank you all for your suggestions,I'm really finding helpful tips.
I will keep work progress posted
 
S Bengi
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Location: Massachusetts, Zone:6/7, AHS:4, Rainfall:48in even distribution
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Do not try to harvest that land for at least 3 years.

Focus on just 1 or 2 acres only.
Plant only the native "invasive" plants until you get as much ground cover/shade as possible.
Plant a native nitrogen fixer/legume/bean+pea family.
If you can get someone to dump newspaper/cardboard/leaves/straw to your property pay to have them do it.
If possible get some fungal spores that are adopted for your area
It seems that you do get a good amount of rain you just have to save it
 
musa sani
Posts: 21
Location: NW Nigeria: at the edge of the Sahara, which is moving my way. Temperatures from 30-43 C (86-115 F)
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S Bengi wrote:Do not try to harvest that land for at least 3 years.

Focus on just 1 or 2 acres only.
Plant only the native "invasive" plants until you get as much ground cover/shade as possible.
Plant a native nitrogen fixer/legume/bean+pea family.
If you can get someone to dump newspaper/cardboard/leaves/straw to your property pay to have them do it.
If possible get some fungal spores that are adopted for your area
It seems that you do get a good amount of rain you just have to save it


Thanks.
But I planned to make a compost with leaves and and staw I could get,because of the difficulty to keep away other people cattle from it.
I will try to make as much as I can.
 
Michael Cox
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Location: Kent, UK - Zone 8
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musa sani wrote:
But I planned to make a compost with leaves and and staw I could get,because of the difficulty to keep away other people cattle from it.
I will try to make as much as I can.


If the area is unfenced and cattle wandering are a problem, then you could be facing a very difficult task. If you don't want cattle yourself I would be looking to build swales for water harvesting and planting trees for shade. The trees will help cool and shade your crops and - if you can find suitable nitrogen fixers - help improve soil fertility and provide materials for mulching. Wandering cattle will browse on your young trees and kill them before they have a chance to get started.

Also, from my own compost making experiences, to make an appreciable difference on the scale of an acre you would need massive quantities of material, and those mulch material would need to be replaced regularly to keep levels topped up.

One option to look into seriously is vetiver grass. It is a dense clumping grass with very deep roots. It puts on loads of biomass growth which can provide plenty of mulch material, it helps slow and filter surface water increasing infiltration into the soil and it prevents run off of topsoil in extreme rain events. The top soil builds up in layers uphill of each hedge forming natural terraces of soil rich in organic material ideal for planting.



It has a wide climate tolerance, but doesn't like frosts. There is also a potential market making divisions of the plant to sell to other farmers once you can show that it works.
 
Jennifer Wadsworth
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Hi Musa!

I live in a hot, dry climate here in Phoenix, Arizona. I have also lived in Kenya, Somalia and Lesotho.

First of all, I want to congratulate you on taking up this task!

Here are some resources that may help you - some of them are happening close to you:

Farmer Managed Natural Regeneration: http://fmnrhub.com.au/

Niger has had some fabulous success with reclaiming desertified lands with FMNR:



Zai Pits and the story of Yacouba Sawadogo - the "Man who Stopped the Desert"

How to build Zai Pits: http://en.howtopedia.org/wiki/How_to_Start_Culture_in_Zai_Holes






 
musa sani
Posts: 21
Location: NW Nigeria: at the edge of the Sahara, which is moving my way. Temperatures from 30-43 C (86-115 F)
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Jennifer Wadsworth wrote:Hi Musa!

I live in a hot, dry climate here in Phoenix, Arizona. I have also lived in Kenya, Somalia and Lesotho.

First of all, I want to congratulate you on taking up this task!

Here are some resources that may help you - some of them are happening close to you:

Farmer Managed Natural Regeneration: http://fmnrhub.com.au/

Niger has had some fabulous success with reclaiming desertified lands with FMNR:



Zai Pits and the story of Yacouba Sawadogo - the "Man who Stopped the Desert"

How to build Zai Pits: http://en.howtopedia.org/wiki/How_to_Start_Culture_in_Zai_Holes








Wow this really gives me more hope as that is exactly what I wanted to introduce to my region.
I'm very close to niger.we are facing same challenges,so glad when I watched these videos.
People really need to see to believe here that's why talking is not helping much.someone has to put things to practice.

Thanks for that website I think it will help alot.
 
Brett Andrzejewski
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Hello Musa,

Some of my recommendations are:
* living fences of cactus or other sharp shrub plant to prevent roaming cattle. Try prickly pear cactus, sickle bush (Dichrostachys cinerea) - nitrogen fixer, thorn bearing acacia trees - nitrogen fixer and some are edible. These living thorny fences would be placed around your precious gardens and fruit trees in zone 1 and 2. Start small and work outwards.

* If you have a lot, a lot of labor you can consider a 'cattle pit'. I can't remember the correct name, but you dig a trench with a steep slope on the external side and slope to the bottom on the internal side about 2 meters deep. You line the steep side with rocks to create a terrace against erosion. The trench should be about 2 meters in width. This will prevent cattle from entering the area.

* Anything and everything to prevent evaporation of water from the soil. Try rock mulch and waste straw for mulch held in place by rocks or branches. Rock mulch: If you are able to to find rocks place them near your plants (about 4 cm away) to keep the soil under the rock cool and moist. Try not to use black or dark colored rocks, i find hand size rocks work well. Sandstone rock if flat and large enough can be placed in between your plantings. Try to create shade using broken branches. You want to shade on the west side of the plants allowing morning sun to enter but shading hot afternoon sun.

* Create rich soil through composting. I read that you have cardboard available. Create a shaded compost bin on the east side of shade tree if possible so the afternoon sun (from the west) will prevent evaporation from your compost pile. If you don't have a tree yet you can use a tarpaulin (tarp) to cover the pile. Use rocks or bricks to hold the tarp in place against strong wind. I get a lot of cardboard from my neighbors, I tear it up into little pieces and then add it to the compost bin in layers. The layers are: cardboard, thin covering of dirt, manure, cardboard, thin covering of dirt, manure. I sometimes soak the cardboard pieces in a bucket of water to soften them up. If you don't have manure, I then i would recommend human urine diluted 10 times in water to add nitrogen and phosphorous to the layers of the compost as I build them. If you use human urine in the compost add this compost to your trees or living fences (NO GARDEN). If you use animal manure, compost OK for garden. Try to get the pile 1 meter tall by 1 meter radius.

* Consider sorghum too, it is more drought resistant than corn. If you have problems with birds eating your seeds try to put them into a clay "seed ball". Research 'Fukuoka Seed Ball'.

Hope this gets you started! Best of luck on your project and restoring the land!

 
Jennifer Wadsworth
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Hi Musa - I thought that you would find those inspirational! Some of the most important and successful work in rehabilitating large degraded landscapes is happening in Africa. I think that those involved in that work have no idea how inspirational they are to the rest of the world. We're watching with interest and we're following your lead.

Please keep us involved in your work and post pictures as you can.
 
Konstantinos Karoubas
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A few more thoughts Musa,

You may use natural fencing to protect your land – plants such as cactus (opuntia cactus) – if it thrives in your area can be used in the perimeter to protect your land from animals and people – it will also provide you with food as both the leaves and fruits are edible – do cactus pears grow in your area?
They are easy to plant – just place them on the ground in the spring time. and they will root and grow - no need to water them.

Its also very important from the outset to define your relationship with this piece of land. For my land I view myself as the servant of it, and treat as I would a close family member – provide as much as possible without demanding anything in return. You need to build up the soil fertility of your land first – serve it – before you get anything in return. If you hurry the process by using chemical fertilizers or the like you will do damage.

If on the other hand you see yourself as the master of the land, and you go to it with the plow and chemical sprays and demand that it give you so much of this or that, you may get short term gains, but you will bring on further destruction.

Defining your relationship with the land from the beginning and getting to know it well, will determine the success or failure of your effort.


Kostas
 
Konstantinos Karoubas
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Sorry - I did not see Brett's recommendation on cactus.

Kostas
 
Michael Cox
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Jennifer's tip for managed regeneration is a great one. You may already have established root systems in place in your soil, just waiting for another chance to become a tree. You will need to be able to protect your regenerating trees at least until their canopy is out of browse range. Do you have a need/market for stick wood for fuel in your area? This could be another valuable crop product while sheltering your main crops.

Cooking stoves that make biochar might be a good investment to use the fuel wood efficiently and make some additional soil supplement for you.

Two acres isn't too large to consider digging Swales by hand as well - the more water you can hold and sink into your soil the better. You can mark out contours using an a-frame and "walking" it across the land. Even better if you could talk to you neighbours and see if some of them are interested in a larger scale project which could benefit all of you.

The Al Baydha project is an example of a community effort to restore awhile water catchment in an extreme desert environment. Your challenges are a little different as they had very very low rainfall, but a broad scale approach to the whole landscape could benefit everyone.
 
musa sani
Posts: 21
Location: NW Nigeria: at the edge of the Sahara, which is moving my way. Temperatures from 30-43 C (86-115 F)
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Brett Andrzejewski wrote:Hello Musa,



Hi Brett,your contribution points to all the important things I need to do to succeed in this project
I will keep re-reading it to see how much I can put to practice.
Thank you sir.
 
musa sani
Posts: 21
Location: NW Nigeria: at the edge of the Sahara, which is moving my way. Temperatures from 30-43 C (86-115 F)
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Jennifer Wadsworth wrote:Hi Musa - I thought that you would find those inspirational! Some of the most important and successful work in rehabilitating large degraded landscapes is happening in Africa. I think that those involved in that work have no idea how inspirational they are to the rest of the world. We're watching with interest and we're following your lead.

Please keep us involved in your work and post pictures as you can.

Hello,the information you provided here gives my me hope that I too can do it.
I ll do best to keep you all posted with each stage of my project.
Thankyou so much
 
musa sani
Posts: 21
Location: NW Nigeria: at the edge of the Sahara, which is moving my way. Temperatures from 30-43 C (86-115 F)
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Konstantinos Karoubas wrote:

Kostas

Quite a good words to learn from.my relationship definition of land will be same as yours.
Thanks.
 
musa sani
Posts: 21
Location: NW Nigeria: at the edge of the Sahara, which is moving my way. Temperatures from 30-43 C (86-115 F)
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Michael Cox wrote:Jennifer's tip for managed regeneration is a great one. You may already have established root systems in place in your soil, just waiting for another chance to become a tree. You will need to be able to protect your regenerating trees at least until their canopy is out of browse range. Do you have a need/market for stick wood for fuel in your area? This could be another valuable crop product while sheltering your main crops.

Cooking stoves that make biochar might be a good investment to use the fuel wood efficiently and make some additional soil supplement for you.

Two acres isn't too large to consider digging Swales by hand as well - the more water you can hold and sink into your soil the better. You can mark out contours using an a-frame and "walking" it across the land. Even better if you could talk to you neighbours and see if some of them are interested in a larger scale project which could benefit all of you.

The Al Baydha project is an example of a community effort to restore awhile water catchment in an extreme desert environment. Your challenges are a little different as they had very very low rainfall, but a broad scale approach to the whole landscape could benefit everyone.


Thankyou sir,your suggestions keep leading me to new ideas.
Please could I get more info about digging swale?
Thanks.
 
Brett Andrzejewski
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Digging swales:

Before you start a swale you will want to know the contour of the land and how water flows on the land. It is highly recommended that you build your swales on contour with a tool called an A frame. Your land looks very flat but it may not be. You need to build an "A" frame to help discover the contour.



I assume that you will be able to build something similar to the picture. Make sure the center piece (cross bar) is level.

Start at the highest point on your land, put the A frame on the ground. Move only one of the legs of the A frame until the string is in the center of the cross piece. When the string with weight is in the exact middle of the cross piece the two legs of the A frame are at equal height. You would then mark where the legs are with rocks, flags, or sticks. You then want to repeat this process across your entire property. Go 2 meters downhill and find the next contour line. If you do it properly you should "connect the dots" to see the contour of the land.



In the picture above the lines in picture are all at equal height. You want to dig your swales along these lines. Do not go up hill or downhill. Dig a hole putting the dirt from the hole on the downhill side of the contour line. Repeat digging until you followed the contour line. Congrats! You have made a swale!

Note: Your contour lines may be straight, curved, bent, pinched, but there should be no gaps in the lines.

Good luck! Let us know how it goes!
 
musa sani
Posts: 21
Location: NW Nigeria: at the edge of the Sahara, which is moving my way. Temperatures from 30-43 C (86-115 F)
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After reading through,I think have to focus more on putting organic materials in this land than trying to make it produce anything I need for at leas 1-2years.
I planted beans and millet but I will let them grow and mix-up with grasses,to provide cover from sun heat during dry season and as mulch.i also reduced the area which I ll develop this year.i will bring in anything that grow in the entire farm in the fence section.I'm getting material for fencing before the rearing starts.I will fence 1/3 this year and mulch it with all that grows in the land.another quarter next year.

I have ask for help with designing of ponds-like for rain water catchment for gardening during dry season.
Thanks for help on how to swale.still open for more tips and suggestions.
 
Cj Sloane
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Here's a tip.
Put your fencing in on contour (level). Walk it out with an A-frame. I wish I had done that with my land.
 
John Polk
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If the rain that falls on your land does not all soak in as it falls, it will flow down hill into your swales. Once it has been captured in the swales, since it cannot go down slope any more, it will soak into your soil at the swale. If the swales have plenty of compost in them, the soil in, and immediately down hill from them will become your best growing areas - moist soil.

Depending on how far apart they are, you should start seeing bands, or strips of greener, more lush growth. They should grow wider with each rainy season. A sure sign that you are healing the land.

One of the best things about swales, is that they store the water in the soil. Exactly where you want it. No tanks, pumps or pipes to purchase.

 
Neal Spackman
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Dear Musa,

you are blessed to have as much rainfal as you do. Look into alley croppping--this will allow you to plant standard annuals but also to harvest the water you get adn to establish tree crops. Tony Rinaudo's stuff is great ut if you are going to plant trees, I recommend zizyphus for honey production and coppicing, leucaena leucocephala for nitrogen fixation and grazing animals, and mongongo for a good perennial staple tree crop. You can learn a lot more about other rees you could use at treesforthefuture.org. They have done many wonderul projects in W Africa and the Sahel, and can get you seeds if you talk to the right people. They have provided me and my project in Saudi Arabia (70 mm rain per year) with seed for free.

 
Sheri Menelli
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Musi,
I wish you would take pictures and give us an update every 2 weeks. It would be so interesting to follow this.

I think that "planting the water" is the first thing you will need to think about. Here is a great story from a man in Africa who might inspire you:
http://www.theecologist.org/campaigning/food_and_gardening/360257/case_study_drought_resistant_farming_in_africa.html

If you plan for the water first, you'll reduce the work you need to do in the future.

I really believe the first step is to measure the contour with the A frame that is mentioned above.

Next is to slow, spread and sink the water.

After that you might have to create some kind of fence to keep animals from grazing.

Have you watched the geoff lawton video on Greening the Desert?

Please keep us updated. This is so interesting!

Sheri
 
ariel greenwood
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Location: piedmont north carolina
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ditto to Sheri - Musi, we'd love to see photos as you go!

I have a few questions about your situation, as I know nothing about where you are or Nigeria in general.

- what are your markets like? village, town, urban? what are people buying that you could grow in the near term, and further out?
- where are you sourcing your materials? to what extent can you order seeds and other material?
- what kind of labor is available to you, whether free (friends, neighbors, family) or paid? what kind of machinery/implements/tools?
 
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