A project with co-benefits
The goals of this municipal nursery are to provide training in nursery techniques and micro gardening to unemployed youth and women in the neighbourhood, render the neighbourhood/city more aesthetically pleasing, and grow plants with which to green the city, thereby increasing air quality and providing sound and heat control. The nursery is intended to improve the city landscape while at the same time provide both plants and seeds for sale. Hardy species that can survive under difficult conditions being exacerbated by climate change, such as those with drought tolerance, make up the inventory of the nursery. The project is also undertaking site preparation activities such as waste cleanup and basic irrigation provision. The entire project is being managed by a committee of city and municipal staff but predominantly public representatives in the municipality in which the nursery is located.
Microgardening in Dakar
In most areas of Dakar, once-beautiful public gardens have suffered decades of neglect, and now look more like makeshift garbage dumps and parking lots than the green public spaces that they used to be. Until recently, the situation in HLM Patte d'Oie was no different. HLM Patte d'Oie is one of the smaller communities in the Dakar; only 316 compounds lie within its borders.
The northern edge of the neighbourhood is bordered by a 400-metre-long strip of "green" space. In 2010, these dilapidated gardens were selected to house the City of Dakar's brand-new municipal plant nursery, a project in partnership with the Sustainable Cities International Network. Construction and improvement of the site began in December 2010, and it has quickly become a little green oasis in the heart of Dakar's bustling outskirts. Part of the site is dedicated to microgardening, a popular form of table-top gardening that works in tight urban settings and substitutes peanut shells and rice husks for soil. The microgardening tables are currently tucked in a corner of the nursery, while the rest of the space is dedicated to the trees, shrubs, and flowers that will eventually regreen the streets and parks of Dakar.
Every day, the microgardening site is visited by forty-two women and dozens of other pairs of hands. Taking care of the gardening tables is a community affair. Children of all ages come to help their mothers and grandmothers. This project expands the role of the woman in her family, as it gives her a productive activity outside of her home and enables her to contribute income — measured as food or francs — to her household.