When I first learned about a mysterious herd of goats on the loose in suburban Boise, Idaho performing lawn services, my first reaction was “how odd” while my second was “I wonder how much those goats charge!” An unusual combination of heavy rains, warm temps and high humidity has turned my own yard and gardens into a such a jungle that any help would be welcomed.
If that story of renegade gardening goats briefly ruled the airwaves last week, I think it’s because few of us have experienced goats firsthand in any significant way. Goats may not be as mythical as unicorns, but they are almost as mysterious to urban and suburban dwellers. My only encounter with them was back in the 90s when I was traveling in West Africa where goats seemed to be everywhere. While there, I learned that goats play an important role in providing milk, meat and money for families, especially those with very little land.
But, just as goats on their own can’t meet suburbia’s lawn care needs, they also cannot meet the developing world’s need for nutritious food. To achieve food security, we must give people and communities greater access to the resources they need to grow their own healthy fruits and vegetables.
This month, I’d like to invite you to travel vicariously with me to West Africa to learn about a community gardening effort in Nigeria that is doing just that. With the help of one of SeedMoney’s grants, the Obodo Ahiara Community Garden is teaching women, especially young mothers, to grow nutrient-dense crops such as greens, cassava and okra for their families.
The Obodo Ahiara project won one of our “merit grants” which we make available to garden projects in the US and abroad. We also offer “challenge grants” which groups can use to leverage donations from individuals within their community. Both types of grants can be accessed through the same online application which is open now. If you know someone who is looking for funding for a public food garden, please help us spread the word. The deadline isn’t until November 12th, but we’ve found that the most successful projects are those that get started in advance. Please let me know if you have any questions.
Until next month, keep growing!