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RE: Crops without water?

  • Subject: RE: [cg] Crops without water?
  • From: "Sharon Gordon" gordonse@one.net
  • Date: Thu, 30 Oct 2003 19:42:36 -0500
  • Importance: Normal

Here's an inspiring example from Zimbabwe.

Four things that I can think of that would help before you go would be to

1)take a permaculture workshop, read the major permaculture books, and look
at some of the videos.  This will help with figuring out a sustainable
dryland system.  Also see what you can find out about the plants and farming
systems there before you go, and who to connect with for info when you get
there.  See http://www.permacultureactivist.net for details.  Asking this
question on the international permaculture list would also likely get you
lots of helpful replies.
Generally people are most willing to switch to something new that
incorporates lots of foods they already like.  And check out what the
cultural issues are about teaching and getting the use of land.  Sometimes
the head of a village decides who gets garden plots and where.  Sometimes
people of one gender are only culturally allowed to teach people of their
own gender.  Sometimes people of one gender do most of the gardening and not
the other gender.  Pretty much it always helps though if you can get one of
the people who is highly respected in the community to do a small
demonstration garden on their own land.  Unless there is a big piece of land
that's unneeded currently, it's best to do a small experimental garden to
see what works in the area.

2)Take the beginning biointensive gardening workshop and read the
biointensive books.
http://www.growbiointensive.org http://www.bountifulgardens.org  This system
is being done in over 100 countries.  It only needs a shovel(preferably flat
bladed) to do it.  And it can created dramatic changes.  One person working
in South America with this pointed out that you can change people's lives in
only three weeks with this as that is when they get their first radishes.
Over time it can have major effects.  A person from Scotland collected data
from an implementation in Kenya.  They found that within four years of
learning how to grow gardens biointensively, that something like 85% of the
people could grow all of their own vegetables.

3)Do an internship at Aprovecho to help give you some of the appropriate
technology skills that would be helpful there.

4)Get some lessons in self medical care and equipment and medications for
the area.  Many places are still reusing needles which is causing all sorts
of continuing medical problems there.  Also you can begin the program of
whatever vacinations are needed for the area at the appropriate time (some
need to be given over several months).

Consider also what you would like to focus on.  One particular need that
seems to be occuring frequently is that there are many orphaned children
left to raise themselves in Africa due to the AIDS epidemic.  Children as
young as four can do the biointensive gardening successively (they need
smaller shovels though).  So if you are especially drawn to this problem,
you might want to look into how things are adapted for children of various
ages.  Another thing to look into whatever age you work with is teaching the
program to people who may not have learned to read.  I know that in
biointensive you can teach people how to make a correct width growing bed by
having two people facing each other as if they are going to weed with an arm
outstretched.  The space in between their pairs of feet is the width of the

Hopefully other people can help you with more specifics.


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