Ma Jardin

13 02 2009

A few days ago I officially started my garden. Though I have to admit, if my garden does well, I can claim little of the glory. I imagined I would need to till and prep the land, plant, compost, and water routinely. Complicating my ambition is the tiny fact that I have zero running water and the nearest robinet (pump/faucet) is a km away. PC issued me a bike so I expected the beginning and end of my day to consist of me riding to the robinet, pumping for 5 minutes into a container I can easily strap onto my bike and returning to water and tend to my garden. What I underestimated (and constantly do…) is village gossip. Village gossip and the general good nature of the people here in Niankorodoubgou.  See, two weeks ago—the same boy Djakalia who brings me bidons of water (think yellow/red travel gas containers) regularly heard I wanted to start a garden. Djakalia’s family is quickly becoming a favorite of mine. His father is the president of the cotton union here. Though cotton is not the most lucrative crop here, it does bring Burkina some notoriety. In addition to being one of the country’s top exports, BF also has covered some of the worlds most celebrated asses- Victoria’s Secret uses BF cotton in its underwear. But, back to Djakalia’s family. His father Dramane’s position as cotton union president comes with little perks but prestige.  He has two wives which is hardly rare in this polygamist community. Of those two marriages, he has raised countless kids. I’m still unable to recognize all of his kids in the droves of children that frequent my house daily for reading and coloring sessions (or to simply harass me in local language till I give them bon-bons.). Dramane’s family is unlike most of the other families in the area. Most people hear I’m starting a garden and come to watch the white girl do manual labor. Djakalia, instead, wakes me up at 8 in the morning one day to the sound of him cutting down trees and breaking soil in my pre-marked garden plot. He doesn’t stop there though. After he’s done breaking the soil, of which I attempt to help and am replied by chuckles for both my attempts at using a pic axe and my French,  he makes several trips to the robinet to water the ground and loosen it up for planting. This was more than I could have asked for. Now, the next day when I am walking around in the back pastures adjacent to my house, Drissa, Djakalia’s younger brother, sees me walking around with gloves and asks if he can help me collect fertilizer (a nice word for cow dung) from the fields. Immediately he organizes an ensemble of five other kids who race to see who can fill a bucket or sache up first.

Drisa holding Tegan infront of my in progress garden

Drisa holding Tegen infront of my in progress garden

Next Drissa comes back with a machete to further till my garden and then places branches over my pepinare (baby plant farm) so that the neighbor’s animals don’t eat my plants. Drissa now comes over regularly in the evening to help me further prepare the soil and water my pepinare. The day generally ends with the sun going down as we drink our “vitimin” water together shoes off in my hanger and go over different words in French, Jula, and English. I’m currently trying to teach him to freak out the other “tubabuso” or white person in village (other PC Girls Empowerment volunteer) by saying “what’s up.” Were currently at the “vvvvvvat essssss uooop?” stage. We’ve made an agreement that by the time our garden is in full bloom, we’ll continue our “vitimin” water sessions in the garden with my much imporoed French and Drissa’s own chair.

Below is a list of the seeds in my pepinare (cross your fingers they all work):

cocoa, basil, onions, aubergines (eggplant), orange California poppies, marigolds, morning glory, yellow squash, tomatoes, cantalope, green beans, moringa, carrots, watermelon
If you happen to cross paths with a home depot or grocery store that sells grains please think of me and send me anything you think might grow in “savannah grasslands” or brighten my day. Just be sure to label the package “educational materials.”


So I finally got my act together and bought griage (metal fencing) and once again Drissa came to my rescue coordinating another posse of kids to help the white lady with her garden!






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