My friend Ibrahim gifted me some yam seedlings after his harvest last year and we’ve had them in storage in the pantry for months. Now that the rains have started, our babysitter Talata suggested I plant them. The next day her husband James showed up with two hoes and we got to work!
Twenty-one mounds and a whole lotta sweat later, the yams were planted in my front yard. I’ll need to weed them every three or four weeks but other than that we just pray for rain and wait for the harvest.
It seems a bit counterintuitive, but some of our best, locally-grown veggies only show up at market in the dry season. You’d think they’d be abundant in the rainy season but too much sporadic rain during and a multitude of pests make gardening difficult. Farmers are also more focused on ploughing, sowing, and weeding their main staple crops of corn, millet, beans, and groundnuts.
In the dry season, those with access to plots by the creek can maintain healthy vegetable gardens if they are willing to do the hard work of irrigating the crops. And it’s hard work! Very few of the gardeners can afford a water pump (or the fuel to run it) so they manually carry 10-gallon jugs of water up and down from the creek. Humidity stays below 10% most of the dry season while temperatures can hit 110F so the plants need a lot of water.
Just south of Nalerigu is the predominantly Bissa village of Nagboo that is known for its dry season gardens. Most of its produce ends up at the Nalerigu market for sale. These gardeners produce cabbage, lettuce, eggplant, tomatoes, bell peppers, hot peppers, hibiscus, and amaranth greens.
I recently biked down to Nagboo with just a DJI Mavic drone and an iPhone and took some photos and video of the gardens. The gardeners were very gracious and happy to show off the fruit of their hard work.
Every Sunday when we get back to Nalerigu from attending church in a village, we swing by ALL THERE CHOP BAR to grab lunch. Our friend Candy runs the business which is across the street from the Presby Church. The ladies there prepare local staples fufu, banku, kenkey, tz, and rice along with light soup, groundnut stew, and shito.
William likes to get banku and light soup and the rest of the family enjoys kenkey with groundnut stew. Our Sunday lunches cost us 3 Ghana cedis which is about 70cents US. And we usually can’t eat it all so Buster gets the left overs!
During this time of year, most families in our region are going to farm. Ploughing, weeding, sowing, weeding, weeding, more weeding. Most folks walk several miles to reach their farms where they will work all day. The women will bring cooking pots and ingredients and fix their lunch right out in the farm.
After sowing corn for a few hours, I joined my friends for some gɔba – boiled bean cakes – made of black-eyed peas flour and bambara beans flour. You then dip them in oil as you eat them.
I think farm food is a bit like camping food. When you’ve been out in the hot sun for hours just about anything tastes amazing. These boiled bean cakes were the best thing ever.
Excited to try solid foods!
…but not so impressed with it.
This is one of our local bakeries. One of our friends has two of these massive wood-burning clay ovens and cranks out hundreds of loaves of bread a day. Most of the bakeries make two varieties of bread: sugar bread and tea bread. We prefer the tea bread which isn’t as sweet. In the photo above, the three loaves of tea bread were just pulled out of the oven for me to take home. Mmmmm.