River Run

“Oh there’s a river that winds on forever, I’m gonna see where it leads. Oh there’s a mountain that no man has mounted, I’m gonna stand on the peak. Out there’s a land that time don’t command, wanna be the first to arrive. No time for ponderin’ why I’m a-wanderin, not while we’re both still alive. To the ends of the earth would you follow me. There’s a world that was meant for our eyes to see”

Ends of the Earth, LH

Toward the end of May, I brought my Master Farmer, Amadou Sy, up Northwest to the city of Ndioum. We went to a project there to learn about hand-crank pumps for wells because water is our everyday struggle. If you don’t have water, you can’t work- not in agriculture anyway.

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This is an example of the style of hand-crank pump we were looking to get. On the left is Demba Ndiaye, the project leader, showing Amadou the mechanism by which the pump is able to bring up the water. While there, we had the opportunity to try out some pumps, learn the mechanisms and maintenance necessary to make the pump function, as well as install a pump ourselves to practice for our own well at the Master Farm. Demba puts strong emphasis on the sustainability of his project. He expects each client of his to know the ins and outs of the pump and how to fix it when it breaks. This training is a required part of purchase. He uses all locally available parts to create his pumps so folks will always have access to the parts they need should things wear and tear.

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Another part of Demba’s work is to demonstrate permaculture and modern practices in agriculture and agroforestry. I was thrilled to be able to bring Amadou to a place where he can actually see what great practices actually look like when they come to fruition- alley cropping, windbreaks, earthworks, companion planting, fruit tree management, etc. Our Master Farm is relatively barren as we’re just starting out and have limited water. Soon we’ll be installing our own pump and hopefully ameliorate some of our water and time issues.

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Amadou loved the retention pond. Its stocked with fish and has Amadou inspiring to start his own fish farm out in the dry bush. The grass stabilizing the soil around the periphery is vetiver and Demba gave us a few shoots to transplant at our farm. Its strange to imagine a small body of water out in a field where we live but I think its beautiful possibility. One that requires water…

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So much great learning going on.

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Although we spent most of our time at Demba’s project learning and building the pieces of our own pump, we did manage to have a little fun. We stayed with some friends, Dieynaba Tall and Amadou Diallo, who were awesome hosts and let us stay a few nights at their house. And on our last day, I made sure we went up to see the Senegal River- Amadou had never seen it before. I certainly wasn’t going to drag the man halfway across the country and let him miss it!

 

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