Locals take chances, achieve a thriving, dry-season garden in Bauya

April 27, 2015

Joe Lassayo, who has worked with Just Hope for nearly a year as foreman in Bauya, Sierra Leone, and his wife Jenneh, are great examples of the determined, hard-working people we have the honor of knowing. We are astounded and delighted with the thriving garden they are maintaining during Sierra Leone’s dry season. By incorporating some new techniques such as proper row and plant spacing, mulching and applying measured inputs of manure, Joe and Jenneh have achieved a rich garden of corn, okra and beans that would be impressive even during the rainy season. Next they will add “garden eggs” (eggplant) to their crop and possibly “groundnuts” (peanuts). Sullay Turay has assisted by relaying agricultural advice he has learned, which involved the no small task of getting information from his cell phone into a printed form for Joe and Jenneh.

Joe and Jenneh have seen for themselves the power of mulch and are completely on board with this concept and the practice of creating compost from decaying organic matter. Their high level of enthusiasm has come in part from the quality of the yield they are seeing. Typically, the corn they plant results in narrow ears with small kernels scattered throughout and much empty space. The ears they have recently harvested are measurably larger and have full rows of kernels from top to bottom. This bodes well for immediate consumption, for drying and storing for future consumption, and for seed reproduction for the next crop. Rotating the crops will be key to continued strong yields.

It is significant to recognize that this improved harvest has been realized during the hottest and driest time of the year in Sierra Leone, a time when farmers usually experience great difficulty in growing crops. In fact, the results Joe and Jenneh are getting are even better than typical rainy season harvests. With the ability to produce strong harvests throughout the year, farmers such as Joe and Jenneh will have a greater opportunity to solve food security issues and increase household income by selling excess crops.

Joe, Jenneh and Sullay confirm for us that even in the world’s toughest places, there are people with ambition who are eager for a better life. They are innovators and risk-takers, and they are willing to step out, try new things and be leaders in Bauya. Despite the many barriers stacked against them, not the least of which has been living in a country that has all but shut down for nearly a year due to Ebola, they have not given up hope. What’s more, Joe and Jenneh report that people are taking notice, and one of their neighbors has already started emulating their practices. That gives us remarkable hope for the power of locals to lead their communities to greater health and prosperity.