Roots’ Spring Break 2013, although certainly no Cancún or Miami, was a welcome change of pace. Our break was timed to coincide with the Easter break that most primary and secondary schools in Cameroon take; we had two weeks without English class or work in the garden. For the first part of our vacation, we were also lucky to spend some time with the Dickinson-in-Cameroon students, who came to visit us in the West Region! We toured the GIC Sondason facilities and even visited the school garden. For the second half of our vacation, we spent a beautiful and relaxing week between Limbe, a beach town in the South West Region, and Yaoundé, our home away from home.
However, as we all know, there is no “spring break” during the agricultural season. Plants still need to water, weeds still grow, and pests are still hungry. This posed a bit of a challenge with my work in the school garden, where delicate cabbage seedlings were just beginning to sprout. Given that Fondjomékwet is an hour away from Bafoussam (on a good day, in a personal vehicle, with no glitches), it’s not quite so easy to get up and check on the garden to make sure things are going smoothly. It’s also not feasible (or environmentally responsible) to make the trip every morning and evening to water the thirsty seedlings.
Instead, a young student who lives close to the high school offered to water the garden throughout the two-week vacation. Fondjomékwet, while still a relatively small village, is fairly vast and spread out. Many students have a long walk to school, long enough that they wouldn’t be too enthusiastic about doing it twice a day during their vacation. We were lucky to find a willing volunteer who lived just next door to the high school.
When we first got back to the school after break, we were dismayed to find that not too many of the seedlings actually germinated; that is to say, very few of the 500 seeds we planted actually sprouted into tiny cabbage plants. The ones that did weren’t too strong. It turns out that the same thing had happened with one of the women’s groups growing cabbage; we suspect that the seeds we purchased in the markets were old or low quality. Lack of quality control here and a reliable place to purchase organic seeds are major obstacles to overcome when getting started in organic agriculture. Luckily, there is still time to plant corn to complement our cabbage crop. GIC Sondason has its own organic corn seeds for the season- combined with the GIC’s other organic fertilizers and products, we are hopeful the garden can still be a fruitful experience.Back to top