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Amazing Community Garden Update

Amazing Community Garden Update

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Amazing Community Garden Update

Benkadi Garden with The Wash Project in Mali

I don’t know if I’ve ever been so excited to write a blog post and share it with all of you. ♡

So, so, so much good news to share today about the community garden project in Mali that you all helped to fund nearly a year ago.

For those of you just tuning into this story, last December, the Gimme Some Oven community generously gave more than $28,000 (nearly four times the amount we had hoped to raise) to help launch a large-scale community garden named Benkadi in the village of Morodjambougou, Mali in partnership with The Wash Project. This small village in rural Mali has long faced challenges with poverty and food insecurity, especially during their annual 8-month dry season when there is no water to grow crops for the community, and where opportunities for women in particular to earn a steady income are scarce.

However, the women of Benkadi garden had a big dream of creating an enormous new garden that could provide an abundance of fresh, healthy, produce for the community and create brand-new jobs and steady income for over 200 women. So they worked with local experts to draw up plans for the project (it was 100% community-initiated and designed), they persuaded the local government to officially allocate a large swath of brush land for the garden (which was abundant but needed significant work to be cleared), they surveyed all of the surrounding villages to learn exactly what types of produce were most needed, they developed an economic plan so that the garden could be financially self-sustaining in the decades to come, and they identified hundreds of the most highly motivated women in the community who could work hard to make this garden a success. The catch was that the startup cost to launch such a garden — initially around $18,000 — was prohibitively steep and would take many, many years to save in a region where most women only had the opportunity to earn around $3 per month.

This is where you all stepped in to stand alongside them. ♡

Thanks to your above-and-beyond donations, the Gimme Some Oven community was not only able to entirely fund 100% of the initial start-up costs for the Benkadi Garden — costs such as drilling and installing a solar-powered fresh water well for the garden, building permanent shelters for the ladies to have a place to assemble and rest, constructing multiple toilets for the area, installing a fence and gate around the garden (critical for keeping animals out who eat the crops), providing tools and high-quality seeds for the gardeners, and equipping the women with agricultural education as well as small-business financial training — but your donations made it possible for a water tower to be purchased that was double the size that was initially budgeted, which allowed for many, many more clean water taps to be installed around the garden and local community. Plus, the extra donations were able to cover the start-up costs for even more gardeners than we had anticipated, so the team is proud to report that there are now over 350 women (!!!) working full-time in Benkadi Garden. Amazing.

Today, nearly a year into the life of Benkadi Garden, I’m thrilled to pass along the report that the garden is absolutely thriving, and the impact it has already made in this community has been remarkable.

Here are some of the updates (including a special 5-minute video) that the women of Benkadi have asked us to share with all of you… (more…)

   

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