Obsessions of an Agroforester

“I have always loved the outdoors. To walk the earth, through the trees, under the sky, up the mountains, down the valleys, across the rivers, and over the plains- to drink the rain, embrace the wind, smell the pines, feel the long grass at your fingertips, follow strange trails, trust the moon and see the stars- this is to live. Truly.”

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Hiking, biking, boating, swimming, climbing, collecting rocks and feathers, being outside- these are all traditional hobbies people like me have. But since coming to Senegal I have added a few obsessions to this list- seed collecting and tree propagation. I would do nothing else but collect seeds ALL day if I didn’t have other obligations…

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Just ask Aissata Sene- she took all these photos when I went to visit her in Galoyabe. We went to her Master Farm, which is busting with moringa, leucaena, and parkinsonia trees all ripe with pods. She kept prompting me to give it a rest. But truthfully, you can never have enough seeds. Picking the pods off is like a game. You have to get the best ones. Sometimes you have to jump, climb, or get creative to get them down. The more seeds you get, the more trees you can grow. Sometimes the seed pods are tough; cracking them open can be difficult and time-consuming. But I’m good at tedious things.

I have since extended tons of these seeds to various farmers and groups I’ve been working with and I’m excited to see what they do with them. There is nothing more rewarding than seeing trees growing in fields and gardens and knowing those seeds came by way of your hand.

In the Galoyabe Master Farm, countless native grasses, herbs and shrubs have begun to regenerate in the shade of the trees creating a complex, biodiverse thicket that blankets the once barren soil. Its amazing how large trees can sprout from the tiniest of seeds, and yet their impact on the environment at large is even greater.

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Behold a future forest.

See what Aissata Sene is up to. Check out her blog here!

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