In order to win the big coastal hotels as customers for their vegetables, the farmers in Dutabullu need to guarantee a continuous supply of tomatoes, onions, salad and more. For that they will have to plant throughout the rainy season and for that they need greenhouses. Read
We want to thank all of our supporters for their quick response and donations. Without your support we would not have been able to finance the UV-foiles needed for the greenhouses and start with the construction so fast. Now the farmers in Dutabullu have the chance of finishing the greenhouses before this years rainy season and can attempt to sell their first vegetables to potential hotel customers.
And they say the rains will come early this year. So we had no time to waste. Read the diary of Edith Lanfer, who was in Dutabullu to help construct the greenhouses.
In Dutabullu Ousman Jobe, the welder, is waiting for us at 38 degrees in the shade. We arrived in the middle of the fasting month of Ramadan but the gardeners did not want to waste time. We discuss important changes that are to be made to the previous prototypes and start with the execution. We determine the length, diameter and thickness of the steel pipes and proceed to the steel goods supplier in Farafenni, the provincial capital in Central Gambia. Folded papers serve as a template for the angular dimensions, continuous re-measurement provides for the necessary precision.
In his workshop, a sandy area on the main road with some basic tools such as a vice, saw, hammer and welding piston, Ousman and his assistants Alie and Modu begin by welding the single steel arches from 35mm square steel tubes.
Before we go to see Ousman in his workshop, we measure and mark the position of the first greenhouse in the garden of Dutabullu. At 11 o’clock all preparatory work is finished and a pickup truck brings the steel girders and poles as well as a generator to the garden. After all the cavities are dug out and the steel girders are sunk into them, the welding begins. After three hours the greenhouse stands like a fortress. Because of strong winds, we decide to wait with until the next day to put up the foil.
In the morning the winds were still too strong to place the foil on the construction and tighten it right. It was midday until we were able to start.
With many diligent helpers, we unfold the foil over the top rack, then laterally let it drop down over the steel frame. The taller youngsters climb into the rack while the shorter ones try to grasp the side edges of the foil and hold on to it. We tighten piece by piece and attach the foil to the lower crossbars. Now only the front side is missing – but decide to postpone that until tomorrow. We pray and hope that the strong winds do not come back.
It is not without pride that we examine the perfectly fit and constructed greenhouse. Nothing warped, everything taut, just a little tremor of the foil in the wind. We can finalize.
The first greenhouse is finished. In the next few weeks, Ousman, his team, the gardeners and project manager Momodou Bah will build the next three greenhouses for which we have already brought the foil for. In three weeks at the latest, the already sown tomato seeds and onion seeds will be transplanted to the first four greenhouses.
The outdoor gardening continues
Of course, the work in the outdoor part of the garden does not rest. The women are preparing to plant beans, peas, cucumbers, peppers, zucchini, beetroot (when the rain has cooled the soil), eggplants, melons, squash and more – vegetables that withstand water floods and moisture. Just the tomatoes, indispensable for the supply of the hotels, need shelter, and are waiting to move into the greenhouses – the onions and salad too.
Our goal is to be able to supply the full range of vegetables from the end of September. Regularly and in best quality. And in sufficient quantity. But one step after another. First we need to finish building all 12 greenhouses, so that the gardeners at least have the chance to achieve their goal.
We will keep you updated.