Community Garden for Health and Income Generation

by Sinkunia Community Development Organization Vetted since 2015

It has been some time since the last progress report for Sinkunia's community garden in Sinkunia village, Sierra Leone.  This is because Issa Kamara, the Executive Director of Sinkunia spent five weeks in Sierra Leone at the beginning of this year, in part to check in with the community garden in person, and understand its impact first-hand. So, we apologize for the delayed report, and appreciate your patience.

Issa commented that the garden has grown both in physical size, as well as in community engagement since the last time he visited a number of years ago.  While the garden has expanded to include more planting space for staple crops and to include 20 acres for oil palm cultivation, the garden has also begun to engage more members of the community, and in more ways.  Women still constitute the core participants, and have taken on more leadership roles in planning its planting, and organizing its members.  The number of participants in the garden has also grown, and the garden has become one of the central features of Sinkunia village itself.  This speaks to the garden's overall impact not just in terms of food security, but its impact on collaboration and community building as well.

At the time of Issa's visit, the garden members were planting its next crop, which will be ready for harvest in June.  Because this crop will span the end of the dry season and the beginning of the rainy season, the gardeners planted vegetables that can grow well in both weather conditions, such as tomatoes, beans, and sesame.  The community gardeners have also been diligent in nurturing its oil palm crop.  These were planted in 2017, and require extra care in their initial four years before they produce the fruit which can be harvested for its oil.  The garden members have invested in tending to the oil palms over the past year, and the crop is currently in good health.  They anticipate the palms being ready for harvest in a few years' time.  With continued tending by the garden members, the oil palms will provide sufficient fruit to be sold at regional markets, which will then generate an income for the gardeners and community as a whole.

Issa commented that he was amazed by how well the community garden is being organized, and how successful it appears to be in terms of generating income and providing food security in the village.  Issa's stories and descriptions are inspiration both to Sinkunia Organization as well as its supporters to continue the good work that has been started at the community garden in Sinkunia village. As always, we thank you for your continued support of Sinkunia's endeavours in building a healthy, strong community.

As the end of the rainy season approaches, the primary planting season in Sinkunia village is beginning. With the help of your donations, Sinkunia Community Development Organization has been able to send $600 in the recent weeks to help prepare the expanded garden bed for planting, and to purchase seeds and seedlings. This includes cassava, tomatoes, garden eggs, and beans. More oil palm and cassava plants have been planted on the additional land that the community garden’s expansion has created, as these can be processed into garri and palm oil respectively, which sell at a good market prices and can therefore be additional sources of income for the members of the community garden. While cassava can be harvested and processed into garri at the end of the planting season, the palm oil plants will not be mature enough to harvest for approximately two years. However, this is an investment in the future- now that the palm oil plants have been added to the garden, they will produce a harvest and generate income for years to come.

As perhaps the most exciting progress that comes with the new planting season, the women who originally participated in the community garden have now moved on to farm their own garden plots independently, without the direct support of SCDO. They are presently cultivating and planting/expanding their private vegetable gardens with revenues from their community garden harvests. This perfectly reflects the sustainability model that SCDO works to implement- these women received support in the form of seeds, tools, garden space, and guidance through the community garden; two years later, they have the revenue earned from selling their additional garden produce, as well as the confidence and skills, to be able to replicate their success in their own gardens. While these women expand and plant their personal gardens, there is the opportunity for new community members to join the community garden in their place, and begin the same learning and capacity-building process as their predecessors.

For these reasons, we look forward to the upcoming growing season. We want to thank you for your continued support of Sinkunia’s community garden, and the difference it is clearly making.

The rainy season planting of the garden has now been completed, and the crops have been growing for approximately one month. As a group, the members of the community garden spent much of May preparing the garden beds and planting a variety of staple crops, including corn, tomatoes, peppers, and a local vegetable known as garden eggs. These crops typically flourish in warm, wet conditions, and due to the favourable weather that Sinkunia village has been receiving in the last weeks, the seeds have been growing well. 

Sinkunia’s community garden has been blessed with further donations through Global Giving in recent months. This giving is timely, as it coincides with the rainy season’s planting and growing. A portion of these funds have been allocated to ten women who are members of the garden, to allow them to purchase needed equipment, seeds, and compost for their plots. These women were selected to receive funds based on need. The rest of the donations will be used to purchase seeds and seedlings, which will be planted in the newly expanded community garden. The members of the garden are eager to expand their cassava crop and expand into growing oil palm – the women anticipate harvesting an excess of both of these crops, which can then be sold for a good price in the market. The women will also plant cashews, as these are an excellent source of protein and grow well in the Sierra Leonean climate.

Without doubt, your contributions are directly linked to positive developments in the village of Sinkunia, through the community garden and its subsequent effects on income, health, and overall well-being. With that in mind, we want to sincerely thank you again for all that you are making possible in Sinkunia village.

As the dry season in Sinkunia village draws to its end, the community has been preparing their garden for the biggest growing season of the year, from June to August/September. The dry season, from approximately November to April, makes it difficult for crops to grow well without regular irrigation, something that is expensive to implement. As a result, the dry season is the ideal time to prepare for the coming growing season, so that it can be as fruitful a season as is possible, without being able to control the weather...! 

During this dry season, the women that are a part of the community garden are expanding its size in order to be able to grow a great volume and diversity of crops.  With the influx of financial resources as a result of donations such as yours on GlobalGiving, the women have been able to purchase more seeds to plant, as well as buy more tools and hire help so that they can care for a greater tract of land.  This is in itself such a significant accomplishment, and is a testament to the impact and benefit of the financial support the garden has begun receiving through Global Giving. With an expanded community garden, the women will be able to produce more vegetables and legumes for the consumption and subsequent health of their families, and will also have a greater harvest to sell, thereby increasing their family's income. With more money in the household, children are able to afford school fees and uniforms, families are able to pay for healthcare, and quality of life, and hope, grows.

The community as a whole is currently engaged in cutting trees and clearing brush on one side of the existing garden, so that the expansion will become part of the larger garden.  Once this is done, the soil itself will be prepared by removing stumps and rocks, and fertilizing the soil with animal manure. The garden itself is lying fallow during this season, to allow the soil to recover its nutrients ahead of the summer growing season.  This work will be completed by May, so that planting of early crops can begin then. The community members share how excited they are for the garden to expand, and what benefits and potential will literally grow before them in a few months!

Since the last report, the Sinkunia community garden has harvested its dry season crop.  Many of the women who recieved funding from the GlobalGiving fundraising campaign last March had a bumper harvest this fall, harvesting tomatoes, green vegetables, beans, and corn. As a result, these women are now selling off their surplus produce in the community and other large markets in Sierra Leone. This has led to increasing household incomes which, in turn, has exponentially increased the positive impact of the community garden. Many of the participants are now able to ensure their children are fed nutrient rich foods, namely protein instead of carbohydrates, which have previously constituted the dietary foundation due to their cheaper cost. Furthermore, the women are beginning to diversify into other businesses such as garri processing, using the proceeds from their harvest sales to invest in the equipment and raw materials.

Sinkunia Community Development Organization intends to extend support to additional 10 women in the coming year through the community garden.  As such, we are anticipating another successful fundraising drive in February, and look forward to increasing the impact of Sinkunia's community garden.

 

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Organization Information

Sinkunia Community Development Organization

Location: Edmonton, AB - Canada
Website: http:/​/​www.sinkuniacommunity.org
Facebook: Facebook Page
Project Leader:
Mischa Taylor
Edmonton, AB Canada
$5,751 raised of $9,750 goal
 
67 donations
$3,999 to go
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