by Brenna Walsh – Dakar, Senegal – November 21st 2016
Ousseynou Seck is a horticulturalist by training who runs a plant nursery in the Patte d’Oie neighbourhood of Dakar. He is one of the founders of the project, which was started by the City of Dakar through its ville vert or green city initiative along with partners at IAGU and the previous round of Canadian interns at Sustainable Cities. This nursery is a safe site where its members received training and then work in the nursery, tending their own micro crops and selling the vegetables and spices which they grow. Though a lot of work was done to build community interest (Mr. Seck told us he knocked on every door in the neighbourhood to spread the word about the project) there is now so much interest that they have to turn people who want to work at the nursery away. The nursery is a safe work environment for fifty unemployed or underemployed community members, most of which are women.
Mr. Seck is both welcoming and very knowledgeable about the operation of the nursery and was very happy to share information about the project. He gave us a tour of the nursery and introduced us to two of the women who now grow and sell their own crops at the site encouraging us to ask them questions and learn their story. We were able to discuss the project further over an attaya, a traditional Senegalese tea. Though the city no longer funds the project, Mr. Seck has built the nursery in a way that sustains itself, and does not seem to have any doubt that it will be able to do so in the years to come. Though he is the head of the nursery, there is a very communal feel. Tea is served and shared with whoever is in the nursery three times a day. I am excited to follow up on Mr. Seck’s invitation to come back and visit the nursery when it is at its busiest, late in the afternoon when the garden is full of busy gardeners, and community members who have come to buy produce or spend time in walking among the rows of plants and getting to know their neighbours.