The following articles were authored by Louise Ruhr

Meet Ramatoulaye Top

CREATE! field technicians interviewed Ramatoulaye Top while she was watering plants in the Ouarkhokh community garden.

CREATE! field technicians interviewed Ramatoulaye Top while she was watering plants in the Ouarkhokh community garden.

Ramatoulaye Top is 41 years old and lives in Ouarkhokh with her husband, her seven children, and her four grandchildren. She is thrilled that she has had the opportunity to participate in CREATE! training programs in sustainable agriculture and improved cookstove construction. In particular, Ramatoulaye appreciates that training has restored to the community knowledge of traditional agricultural techniques that had been lost in the past decades. “With CREATE!,” she adds, “we are our own leaders.” Ramatoulaye says, “My biggest dream is to have enough to keep my family from want.” With additional training from CREATE!, Ramatoulaye and others will be able to continue to provide for their families.

Since 2010, CREATE! has partnered with the community of Ouarkhokh to lead training programs in sustainable agriculture, improved cookstove construction, Voluntary Savings and Lending Association (VSLA) techniques, and poultry production.

“Attaya bi neexna de”

Pape Ba, CREATE! Driver and Field Assistant, makes attaya using a charcoal stove.

Pape Ba, CREATE! Driver and Field Assistant, makes attaya using a charcoal stove.

In Senegal, “attaya bi neexna de” (tea is good). In the afternoon, after the midday meal, friends gather to chat and make attaya, a type of gunpowder green tea. Making attaya can take hours and is an important part of Senegalese cuisine and culture.

To make attaya, one places green tea leaves (warga) in a teapot with water. The tea is typically boiled over a charcoal stove, or fuurno. Sugar is then added to the tea and the tea is poured from a height into small, clear glasses until foam appears in the glass. Friends then share this first glass of tea, called lewel. After adding additional sugar and mint, or nana, to the teapot, the process begins again for a second (naarel) and third (nettel) round of tea.  Each round of tea is sweeter than the last.

The garden cooperative in the community of Diender grows nana and sells it in local markets.

The garden cooperative in the community of Diender grows nana and sells it in local markets.

There are three types of mint used in attayanana ordinaire, nana fass, and nana menthe. Senegalese prefer to use nana fass in their attaya but have often had trouble locating an adequate supply. Garden cooperatives in each of CREATE!’s partner communities decided to take advantage of the local nana shortage. The cooperatives now grow nana and sell it in local markets, thus providing fresh mint while acquiring another source of income.

For women in CREATE!’s agricultural cooperatives, attaya is not just tea, it’s a business opportunity!

Fass Koffe’s Growing Garden

Fass Koffe cooperative members are able to water their crops thanks to a hand dug well (background) and a solar-powered pump.

Fass Koffe cooperative members are able to water their crops thanks to a hand dug well (background) and a solar-powered pump.

The evolution of the Fass Koffe cooperative garden over the past four years has been astounding! On her recent visit to Fass Koffe, CREATE! Chief Operating Officer Louise Ruhr was once again impressed with all of the work that cooperative members have done, in collaboration with CREATE! field staff, to make the garden site an oasis in a dry landscape.

Since 2010, the Fass Koffe cooperative has worked to expand their garden and create a living, sustainable resource for their community.

Since 2010, the Fass Koffe cooperative has worked to expand their garden and create a living, sustainable resource for their community.

The Fass Koffe garden includes thriving cashew trees and vegetables such as eggplant, pepper, cabbage, and tomatoes. Cooperative members have exploited every square inch of the garden site to maximize vegetable production – even under the shade of the cashew trees – thanks to water from a hand dug well and solar-powered pumping system.

Cooperative members grow vegetables that are important staples in Senegalese cuisine. Their families love having access to fresh, locally grown produce! These cashews and vegetables also provide a much-needed source of income for residents of Fass Koffe.

Cooperative members cleared land for the garden in 2010.  The garden is located next to CREATE!’s Appropriate Technology Training and Demonstration Center in Fass Koffe.

Cooperative members cleared land for the garden in 2010. The garden is located next to CREATE!’s Appropriate Technology Training and Demonstration Center in Fass Koffe.

In the future, the Fass Koffe garden will continue to grow and flourish thanks to the dedication of the community’s cooperative members and CREATE!’s knowledgeable agricultural technicians.

Watermelon Season in Ouarkhokh

Ouarkhokh cooperative members carry some of the fruits of this year’s watermelon harvest.

Ouarkhokh cooperative members carry some of the fruits of this year’s watermelon harvest.

It’s the rainy season in rural Senegal, which means that it’s time to harvest watermelon! Watermelon is a tasty and popular crop, originally native to western and central Africa. In Ouarkhokh, cooperative members grow watermelon plants interspersed with rows of corn. The corn stabilizes the soil and acts as a windbreak for the growing watermelon. The Ouarkhokh garden cooperative is currently maintaining nearly 8000 square meters of watermelon plants.

Even after suffering from blight, this year’s watermelon harvest was bountiful.

Even after suffering from blight, this year’s watermelon harvest was bountiful.

Ouarkhokh cooperative members harvested their watermelon crop a little early this year because some plants were suffering from a fungal disease called cercosporiose. After treating the plants with an organic anti-fungicide, cooperative members were able to salvage much of the crop. Because watermelon production in Senegal was poor overall this year, Ouarkhokh cooperative members were able to sell their crop for an excellent price at local markets!

This watermelon weighs nearly 15 pounds!

This watermelon weighs nearly 15 pounds!

 

If you have some watermelons from your own garden, try this recipe for West African-inspired watermelon lemonade:

Ingredients:

1 cup fresh lemon juice (3-4 large lemons)

6 cups scooped watermelon, blended (3.5 cups after blending)

½ cup sugar (to taste)

¼ cup water

2 cups ice

Directions:

Juice the lemons. Next, scoop the watermelon into a blender. You’ll need about 1/3 of an average watermelon to get 6 cups. Blend the watermelon in a blender or food processor. You need about 3.5 cups of watermelon puree. Add the lemon juice. Strain the lemon juice and watermelon mixture. The finer your strainer, the less pulp you’ll have.

Meanwhile, heat up the water and sugar in a small saucepan. You may like more or less sugar – depending on how sweet the watermelon is. Simmer gently until the sugar dissolves. Pour into the strained watermelon mixture.

Next, add 2 cups ice and let chill in refrigerator. Serve over ice.

Recipe from Global Table Adventure: http://globaltableadventure.com/2011/05/08/recipe-west-african-inspired-watermelon-lemonade/

 

 
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