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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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Kristina Raza wrote:I love this thread and what you are doing!
It may take a generation but you have a hidden weapon that will make it so much easier to change the minds of those that are negative.
You have a school full of students! They will soak up everything like sponges and soon they will be teaching their families permaculture and defending the trees for you.
I would love to come teach there!



Thanks Kristina!
You're welcome to come teach...do you know French?
 
Nathanael Szobody
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Jeremy,

Happy to meet a fellow worker in Chad! I live straight West of Salamat, so we have the same climate here. I'm excited to hear of your software project. There is a whole lot of information that needs to be brought together to help workers.

Take trees, for instance. I'm a tree guy, and have undertaken to master all the native trees. I've pretty much got all the food species down. There are masters theses on the internet on all of these trees, exploring nutritional value and cultivation. But you have to hunt for them, and dig through them to get to the good ones. There is an incredible wealth of food right here in the bush trees, but they are just not appreciated enough to be cultivated and put into production.

The savonnier tree is one good example (Balanites aegyptiaca). The bark and leaves are used as detergent, the leaves are used as a vegetable, the fruit are sucked on like candy, the almond is bitter, but very nutritious--but the oil? Oh, the oil... I just paid my neighbor to buy several pound of nuts from the Arabs nomads--who are the only people who go through the work of cracking the nuts and selling them. She extracted the oil for me--twelve litres. So delicious. Like the oil you get from melting butter. That used to be the local cooking oil before Westerners introduced peanuts. And if you actually compare the labor, I'm convinced that the savonnier nuts are actually less labor intensive than plowing, planting, weeding, harvesting, drying, and shelling peanut. Plus: it's a tree!!! Growing them will improve the soil rather than impoverish it as well as producing many other products. I must do it.

And that's really my answer to everything: it is unrealistic, exhausting and condescending to tell local people to live differently than they want to. So I'll live differently and teach that to the kids. Some people get curious over time...

Besides, many of our Western initiatives have VERY little benefit. You mention the 'zero defecation in open air' campaign. I have to confess, I'm a sceptic. The alternative to defecation out in the bush is defecation in a latrine. Have you been in one? There's urine all over the ground you have to walk in, and if you shine a flashlight down the hole the blackwater glistens with fly and roach larva. Because the place stays wet the diseases stay alive and are carried by every fly and roach that goes in and out of there--not to mention on my own feet as I leave the place! African latrines are an unmitigated disaster. And think of the lost nutrient! All of that manure that used to be placed in the surrounding fields through open-air defecation (and somewhat sterilized with intense UV rays) now gets encapsulated in a pit, often times lined with brick and ciment.

Personally, I use  humanure compost toilet. Africans will not use that because they wash with water instead of using toilet paper; they would end up with a smelly bucket of slush. So for my guard's family I just dig a very short latrine hole, do not line it with bricks, and simply move the concrete slab to a new hole every year. That way, at least, I can plant a tree in each of those nutrient pits once a year. You should see the tree from two years ago :-) Not to disparage CLTS in general. I'll give it a look-see.

Let me know next time you're in Chad.
 
Nathanael Szobody
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The pit garden terraces are complete. My plan is to lay down loads of weed tree branches, cover that with a thick layer of peanut shells, cover that with dirt and plant lablab in it this year. The heavy  rains over the next four months will do its magic. That should give us some nice thick composty soil for the next school year to start planting trees in.

   


 
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Nathanael Szobody wrote:Jeremy,
...
The alternative to defecation out in the bush is defecation in a latrine. Have you been in one? There's urine all over the ground you have to walk in, and if you shine a flashlight down the hole the blackwater glistens with fly and roach larva. Because the place stays wet the diseases stay alive and are carried by every fly and roach that goes in and out of there--not to mention on my own feet as I leave the place! African latrines are an unmitigated disaster. And think of the lost nutrient! All of that manure that used to be placed in the surrounding fields through open-air defecation (and somewhat sterilized with intense UV rays) now gets encapsulated in a pit, often times lined with brick and ciment.
...




not to mention that all the nutrient (think blue baby syndrome) and pathogen (think anaerobic, the same conditions as in the intestine) flow with the groundwater into the next well with deep pit latrines.

You may be interested by "smart sanitation solutions" https://www.samsamwater.com/library/Smart_Sanitation_Solutions.pdf
The ArborLoo which you use takes the first place, I think in many situations it is the optimal system.
 
Nathanael Szobody
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Last day of school! Afterwards some of the kids came over to my place to pick Chaya leaves.

   
 


Stew leaves are the main sort of vegetable eaten here. So, while Chaya is from South America, it fits nicely in the local cuisine. It's also super easy to grow. This is a hedge outside my house that was planted with sticks broken off of a single plant. In fact, all of my Chaya (hundreds now) come from one stick I planted three years ago. It makes good stew, good hedges, fast mulch, nice partial shade for a hot season garden, and a great conversation piece. It will be growing all over the school grounds by next year :-)
 
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Nathanael, keep up the good work and thanks for the updates!

Re: CLTS:

Besides, many of our Western initiatives have VERY little benefit. You mention the 'zero defecation in open air' campaign. I have to confess, I'm a sceptic. The alternative to defecation out in the bush is defecation in a latrine. Have you been in one? There's urine all over the ground you have to walk in, and if you shine a flashlight down the hole the blackwater glistens with fly and roach larva. Because the place stays wet the diseases stay alive and are carried by every fly and roach that goes in and out of there--not to mention on my own feet as I leave the place! African latrines are an unmitigated disaster. And think of the lost nutrient! All of that manure that used to be placed in the surrounding fields through open-air defecation (and somewhat sterilized with intense UV rays) now gets encapsulated in a pit, often times lined with brick and ciment.



I want to make sure my primary point about CLTS wasn't missed, because I'm not qualified to try to justify the implementation or results of the work and that wasn't what I was trying to do.  What was most impressive to me about the CLTS is how it was seemingly able to do what many in this thread have bemoaned as insurmountable, and that you touch on in your response:

it is unrealistic, exhausting and condescending to tell local people to live differently than they want to.



I really wasn't intending to open a debate about the effectiveness of the solution provided by CLTS (less than effective wasteful latrines) or even a debate about the outcomes of those latrines vs. open air defecation.  That would require consideration of different context (eg, village of 500 vs 20,000... Time of year...) and would also require data that I simply don't have beyond anecdotes (eg, studies showing results of disease/infection reduction).  I think it would also require consideration that improvement is incremental, but seeing the need for improvement may be the hardest part at times.

What's interesting to me about CLTS is that they did what is so hard; they lead communities towards recognizing the way they were living isn't ideal, what that they had otherwise accepted as normal, and led them to consider improvements that would be beneficial them.  And their methodology in how they did this on a broad scale across thousands of communities was what was so interesting to me.  

Isn't this what the permaculture community seeks to do in influencing toward sustainable/regenerative growing practices?

I think there is potential inspiration in the CLTS methodology to consider in advocating permacultural principles on a broad scale.

 
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Nathanael Szobody wrote:The pit garden terraces are complete. My plan is to lay down loads of weed tree branches, cover that with a thick layer of peanut shells, cover that with dirt and plant lablab in it this year. The heavy  rains over the next four months will do its magic. That should give us some nice thick composty soil for the next school year to start planting trees in.

   



This looks great, if you feel like it you might be able to put a shade "net" or structure over the pit to reduce the evaporation while allowing smaller plants to mature. planting trees around the pit will have a similar effect.
you may also want to look into banana circles
 
Nathanael Szobody
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Good idea Connor. I think I will put a banana circle in the middle of the pit. And I think I'll put a tree in the middle of the banana circle! Hmmm, what kind of tree? Something that will grow for a very long time, get very big, but preferably not a real dense canopy. I could do an acacia albida...But I would rather a food tree.

Also, partial shade for the rest of the pit is a must. I think perhaps planting moringas every few feet should do the trick. In the long term guava interspersed and pruned regularly would probably work. Citrus would grow too fast and dense to garden underneath. Naturally there will be some leucaena as well. Any other thoughts?

-Nathanael
 
Nathanael Szobody
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Connor,

You took my request for suggestions seriously--thanks!

Your reference to Lawton suggesting seven leguminous trees to every food producing tree sounds really high. I do about a one-to-one ratio. Though there are other support trees that are not leguminous.

I see you are in Oregon. What sort of projects do you have going on there? What is your own personal experience? Some of it will translate to Africa, some of it will not. Thanks for the contributions!

-Nathanael
 
connor burke
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im an 18 year old who studied permaculture as such for the past few years
 
Nathanael Szobody
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Thanks Connor,

I don't question your knowledge. I just wanted a context for it so I can better understand your suggestions. And you have provided that context, so thanks! It's very helpful.

I watch all of Lawton's stuff. He is a good communicator. Savory has a good technique down, but I wouldn't say he's permaculture--he only works with animals. His methods could be useful here, but it would be a full-time job to try to educate and coordinate all the local cattle owners. And I'm already occupied full-time :) It's not just a technique; it's a change of culture. That stuff takes time. Plus, the school property is very small.

The nice thing on this property is that the native 'weed' trees are all still there; they were cut down to clear the land for the school, but they'll just spring up when it rains so we have a good number of support trees already established. That's why I'm focusing on the food trees. So far my top ones are: moringa, guava, baobab, tamarind, lemon, cherimoya, pomegranite, ziziphus and several other natives that no one else will recognize, like marula and some local ficus species. There are also shade trees like african mahogany, and medicinals like neem and eucalyptus. I'll throw a few mango in as well, but they will need to be watered every year for the duration of their life so I'm not going crazy on those.

No animals at this point on the school property. Though eventually I will be adding pigeons. I have them at my house and I LOVE them.
 
connor burke
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Sounds like you already have a plan in mind =) support species are often faster growing and better at handling drought and such. So they are great in the early years as sussesional sacrifices for later plants, so your food plants won't need as much or any help to establish once you build your upper soil layer. Dew catchment doesn't rely on rainfall so it will help create even more biomass that you can sell like the leaves of the support trees as animal feed. The reason I was sensitive to doubts about what I know is because a scam like motivational speaker completely did a 180 when he found out my age and I over reacted to your question. Anything I mentioned to you can be modified for desert climates or nature will fix it on its own
 
Nathanael Szobody
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Mark Kissinger wrote:

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




Wow! I just got to looking at these videos as I am now in the capital with decent internet. What a fantastic resource. Gabe Brown does a great job of putting all the pieces together.

As I think about applying his teaching to my context in central Africa the number one obstacle is fence material. This is a huge termite area, so wood is out of the question. Iron is out of the budget. What to do?? You can't paddock and manage animals and fields without fencing...
 
connor burke
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As long as someone watchs the beasties and keeps them from returning to places they've already grazed it should be fine, keeping them simi clumped up is the most important part
 
Nathanael Szobody
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connor burke wrote:As long as someone watchs the beasties and keeps them from returning to places they've already grazed it should be fine, keeping them simi clumped up is the most important part



"Watching the beasties" isn't the only issue--even though that would be a full time job in itself. The other issue is watching the fields: there are innumerable nomadic herds passing through. Without a fence any given field will be grazed over a dozen times in a year.
 
Nathanael Szobody
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I've got a tree list! The ones with an asterisk are support species. The rest are food.

Intensive irrigation
Banana
Papaya
Avocado

Consistent irrigation
Mango
Guava
Cherimoya
Cashew
Olive
Date

Minimun irrigation
Orange
Grapefruit
Lemon
Pomegranate
Senna*
Albizia*
Olive
Chaya
Locust bean
Leucaena*
Cassava
Leaf cassava*

Hardy
Baobab
Guiddem
Pithecelobium dulce
Ficus sycomorus
Ficus platyphylla
Ficus polita
African mahogany*
Moringa
Eucalyptus
Acacia albida*
Cassia*
Piliostigma*
Combretum*
Desert date
Marula
Ziziphus
Tamarind
Neem*

That's probably enough for four acres...
 
connor burke
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Nathanael Szobody wrote:

connor burke wrote:As long as someone watchs the beasties and keeps them from returning to places they've already grazed it should be fine, keeping them simi clumped up is the most important part



"Watching the beasties" isn't the only issue--even though that would be a full time job in itself. The other issue is watching the fields: there are innumerable nomadic herds passing through. Without a fence any given field will be grazed over a dozen times in a year.

are there enough rocks and thorny material to build a fence out of? have you tried speaking to the elders or leaders of the community about coping? it cant hurt to try....
 
connor burke
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if that's the list of all the plants available in your area that's a really good list. im guessing the hardy ones need the least irrigation, if so hardy non food ones will be good pioneer plants to establish shade,biomass and nitrogen while the more water intensive ones "should" be planted later once the forest is ready to undergo succession into a food bearing stage. 70% support and 30% food is my recommendation but if a support species can produce food that will likely be a good bet. if you can convince the farmers and such in your area to convert their land to no till silvopasture and agroforestry that would do a lot of good for their food production. you may want to try walking around to ask folks about the places with the most shade,waste water, and greenery so you can build small gardens in those areas. are there any rocky hills or something in your area where the water will flow to the bottom of? i'd love to see a tour of your wider landscape be that on film or otherwise.
 
Nathanael Szobody
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connor burke wrote: are there enough rocks and thorny material to build a fence out of? have you tried speaking to the elders or leaders of the community about coping? it cant hurt to try....



Nope :)

No Rocks for miles around. And thorny stuff is hugely labor intensive and has to be renewed annually because termites eat it up.

i'd love to see a tour of your wider landscape be that on film or otherwise.



That would be fun. For now I'm in the capital for the next few months because rainy season has begun and roads are flooded. It's my annual migration.
 
hans muster
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You may find something interesting here
http://www.worldagroforestry.org/downloads/Publications/PDFS/MN11028.pdf
it is the manual in french on assisted natural regeneration. It is from your agroecological zone.
 
Nathanael Szobody
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hans muster wrote:You may find something interesting here
http://www.worldagroforestry.org/downloads/Publications/PDFS/MN11028.pdf
it is the manual in french on assisted natural regeneration. It is from your agroecological zone.



Thank you much! Looks like that will be a great French resource to share with my colleagues to show them I'm not all that crazy

I'm actually doing that very thing in our ten acres of crop land: letting the native trees grow in a controlled manner in the crop space. This is the first year though, so I'll have to document it as the years progress.
 
hans muster
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You are welcome.

Many people will be reluctant or laugh at your face when you suggest protecting individual trees, too much work each year due to termites for example. It is however one of the few techniques which has an impact which is visible on satellite images.

I advise you to take some pictures from some landmarks (like the roof of the house, to the North...) before you start, and document the change each year. Often people forget how it was, and say "it was always better land there" "the soil there is different" or somethig along these lines.

 
connor burke
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Nathanael Szobody wrote:

connor burke wrote: are there enough rocks and thorny material to build a fence out of? have you tried speaking to the elders or leaders of the community about coping? it cant hurt to try....



Nope :)

No Rocks for miles around. And thorny stuff is hugely labor intensive and has to be renewed annually because termites eat it up.

i'd love to see a tour of your wider landscape be that on film or otherwise.



That would be fun. For now I'm in the capital for the next few months because rainy season has begun and roads are flooded. It's my annual migration.


do you have a youtube channel you could post videos to, just walking around the capital and looking for cool things would be nice to watch.
 
Nathanael Szobody
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connor burke wrote:
do you have a youtube channel you could post videos to, just walking around the capital and looking for cool things would be nice to watch.



It's illegal to film video tape in the capital :-) But I would be happy to film a walk around my gardens here. I garden in both locations. In the capital I have heavy clay soil, and in the bush it's totally sandy soil, so it has been fascinating to garden both at the same time in the same climate.
 
connor burke
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Nathanael Szobody wrote:

connor burke wrote:
do you have a youtube channel you could post videos to, just walking around the capital and looking for cool things would be nice to watch.



It's illegal to film video tape in the capital :-) But I would be happy to film a walk around my gardens here. I garden in both locations. In the capital I have heavy clay soil, and in the bush it's totally sandy soil, so it has been fascinating to garden both at the same time in the same climate.


yikes, luckily you can show your garden XD the fun part about clay soil is that it wicks up water to the surface so creating shade will do a lot of good. try to buy some scythes while you are there, when you bring it back you will be able to harvest some grass for mulch before they burn it.
 
connor burke
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Nathanael Szobody wrote:

connor burke wrote:
do you have a youtube channel you could post videos to, just walking around the capital and looking for cool things would be nice to watch.



It's illegal to film video tape in the capital :-) But I would be happy to film a walk around my gardens here. I garden in both locations. In the capital I have heavy clay soil, and in the bush it's totally sandy soil, so it has been fascinating to garden both at the same time in the same climate.



updates please 0.0
 
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hugelkultur urban chicken food preservation bike bee
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I am eagerly looking forward to seeing pictures of that gorgeous pit garden (I think even the circular walls are beautiful) after there have been some rains!

I want to second the request for regular pictures taken from the same location.  Humans respond well to "before" and "after" pictures.  Taking the picture on the same calendar day every year, or like you said previously, every 6 months.
 
Nathanael Szobody
pollinator
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Location: Boudamasa, Chad
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Julia Winter wrote:I am eagerly looking forward to seeing pictures of that gorgeous pit garden (I think even the circular walls are beautiful) after there have been some rains!

I want to second the request for regular pictures taken from the same location.  Humans respond well to "before" and "after" pictures.  Taking the picture on the same calendar day every year, or like you said previously, every 6 months.



I'm on it!

One problem: I'm not there right now. It's rainy season right now and all roads to our place are flooded. This is normal for this time of year, so I camp out in the capital and do other stuff. Like gardening. Some people still manage to drive there in this season. It can take anywhere from 24 hours to four days to get there--200 miles. You go for a bit, get stuck. Everybody gets out and pushes. Drive a little more, repeat. That's not my cup of tea, so I sit tight in the capital until late October when the "roads" are normally drive-able... and it only takes 7 hours to go 200 miles.  

No worries though. My colleague has assured me that he is taking pictures for me. It should be very lush right now. Between July and October we get 32 inches of rain, so it should be pretty. Right now in August is the height of it. It can rain everyday for a week or more. Try picturing that compared to the photos I've posted above!

So come October I should have some pics to post...Thanks for following!
 
connor burke
Posts: 125
Location: winston oregon
cattle forest garden greening the desert
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Nathanael Szobody wrote:

Julia Winter wrote:I am eagerly looking forward to seeing pictures of that gorgeous pit garden (I think even the circular walls are beautiful) after there have been some rains!

I want to second the request for regular pictures taken from the same location.  Humans respond well to "before" and "after" pictures.  Taking the picture on the same calendar day every year, or like you said previously, every 6 months.



I'm on it!

One problem: I'm not there right now. It's rainy season right now and all roads to our place are flooded. This is normal for this time of year, so I camp out in the capital and do other stuff. Like gardening. Some people still manage to drive there in this season. It can take anywhere from 24 hours to four days to get there--200 miles. You go for a bit, get stuck. Everybody gets out and pushes. Drive a little more, repeat. That's not my cup of tea, so I sit tight in the capital until late October when the "roads" are normally drive-able... and it only takes 7 hours to go 200 miles.  

No worries though. My colleague has assured me that he is taking pictures for me. It should be very lush right now. Between July and October we get 32 inches of rain, so it should be pretty. Right now in August is the height of it. It can rain everyday for a week or more. Try picturing that compared to the photos I've posted above!

So come October I should have some pics to post...Thanks for following!



😄 its really interesting to see another climate, if you could get some permaculture focused photos of the flooded and muddy areas it could be super interesting to study if you even finish up with the village and want to try working elsewhere. I can feel the swampy insights in my bones just thinking about it 😆😆😆
 
Nathanael Szobody
pollinator
Posts: 430
Location: Boudamasa, Chad
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Alright, got some rainy season photos. The first really big rains did a number to the mud mortar on our pit garden retaining walls. However, they were repaired.

   
 

And we still haven't planted anything in it because we don't have a fence yet. The neighborhood goats would just eat everything up. We can, however, put mulch down so the termites can start working the soil.



 
Nathanael Szobody
pollinator
Posts: 430
Location: Boudamasa, Chad
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This is the school director in his sesame field. Sesame is sown broadcast here. So when his came up too densely he thinned them out...and planted a whole other field full with the ones he thinned! He's the talk of the town this year; no one has ever heard of transplanting an entire field of sesame seed.


   
 
connor burke
Posts: 125
Location: winston oregon
cattle forest garden greening the desert
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More photos please! If you have a machete or are willing to add serations to a blade you might be able to harvest alot of biomass to feed your soial and make compost tea/liquid culture fungi
 
Nathanael Szobody
pollinator
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Location: Boudamasa, Chad
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We haven't been able develop much of the property yet because we still don't have fence. We planted several mango trees with fence around them to prevent cows from eating them, but kids walk through at night and break the tips off anyway.

So, in happier news, we started a school garden! Here is building the enclosure, entirely out of 'weed' bushes and a local plant bark for lashing.






 

   
 
 
Posts: 3
Location: Northern Indiana
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Hey Nathanael,

Have you watched Bill Mollison's Global Gardener series?
The section on drylands he speaks about living fencing material, and the purpose of termites in the landscape.

This is where he talks about planting living fences.
https://youtu.be/P1HWOQg8-L4?t=552

This is where he talks about termites.
https://youtu.be/e9QssyxOfck?t=74
Turns out termites are really good at making compost piles, and growing trees. I don't know the range they have for collecting material, but it seems like a really cool addition to a permaculture setup.
Also, is that the type of termite that can be eaten?

Also, your pit garden seems to get a lot of moisture in the bottom. If you were able to get enough mulch down there do you think it could support a mango tree?
You mentioned they needed lots of water and it looks like the wettest place on school property.

Also, do you know of any local plants with dense fine roots to hold the soil?
If you plant that on the edges in the direction of the blowout in your retaining wall they should help hold the soil so you don't have to work as hard.

I don't know any specific plants there so I couldn't hazard a guess.
Hopefully this helps you find some of the answers you were looking for.

- Justin J.
 
Nathanael Szobody
pollinator
Posts: 430
Location: Boudamasa, Chad
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Hi Justin, somehow I missed the email alert that you had posted here. Thanks for the suggestions!

A living fence is a quest I have been on for five years. Originally I was determined to use native trees. One problem: anything with thorns is also LOVED by goats. So now my plan is to use neem. I hate neem. But if it gets me a living hedge I'll be thankful. It does not have thorns, but it can be planted close together. My thought is that if I layer several species in close rows I'll get a dense hedge. Only now my species are selected for non-appeal to goats rather than for thorns.

Yes, the pit collects water! So we're going to do bananas down there. We still get eight months without rain and temperatures in the triple digits for several months. So, pit or no pit, it'll dry out. Thankfully we now have a water tower and a solar pump! So we're irrigating. Like crazy. We have about 120 trees planted so far: pomegranate, Annona, pithecelobium dulce, guava, tamarind, mango, baobab, African mahogany, albizia, cassia, eucalyptus, terminalia, wild fig, grewia tenax, papaya, banana and neem! And it's just the beginning...
IMG_20200406_175957017.jpg
[Thumbnail for IMG_20200406_175957017.jpg]
 
Nathanael Szobody
pollinator
Posts: 430
Location: Boudamasa, Chad
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Today we worked in the teachers' field. They let me have a small portion as well. I'm experimenting with planting peanuts in the dry season with the shell on so termites don't eat them. Then when the rains come the shell will slowly soften and the seed will sprout.

If that weren't crazy enough I also spent a lot of time cutting weed bushes out of the field and laying them over the planted peanuts. Not only is it mulch, but it will also keep wild guinea fowl from scratching them up. The teachers thought it was crazy, but they were good sport enough to help. I told them that we're a school, so we have to conduct scientific experiments!
IMG_20200429_083821286.jpg
Planting peanuts in shell
Planting peanuts in shell
IMG_20200429_101928529.jpg
The mulched peanut plot
The mulched peanut plot
 
What do you have in that there bucket? It wouldn't be a tiny ad by any chance ...
Learn Permaculture through a little hard work
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