Du marché au maraîchage : from the market to the market garden
9 April 2011
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so much okra
The theme of this week is work. Work, and land, and farming. Admittedly, this has been the theme of my life since January, but in particular this week. I’m working with a group of urban maraîchers – market gardeners – in Bamako, and the training (which takes place in the shade of a mango tree) has basically left me thinking that money doesn’t mean anything: invest in land because that’s all that’s real in this world.
We’ll see. Either way, one of the great benefits of working with farmers is that they love to share their bounty.
strangely, the only thing sold in small quantities
Between a trip to the vegetable market last weekend and a few days under a mango tree, I’ve made out like a bandit.
The best part was a field visit to the former co-op president’s groves just outside of Bamako where I got a bucket filled with succulent pomme de cajou – my beloved cashew fruit.
I’ve been here for almost three months now, and have had an average of one existential crisis per week, I think. But the one thing I know is that there is nothing more important than the ability for a community to provide for itself. Cities can’t rely on the countryside for everything, and le contraire holds just as strong. I’ve criss-crossed this city countless times and seen the market gardens and the food production that happens here.
cashew fruit: like a fruit cocktail in your mouth
This city can feed itself, and that is one of the most powerful things I have seen in a long time. That’s not to say there aren’t problems (and I could go on forever on that), but the potential is there. Money comes and goes, but the land is there, and the people working the land are the backbone of any community.