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Tolou Keurs, Senegal’s drought-resistant circular gardens

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Crop circles of a new kind are sprouting in Senegal. These circular, drought-resistant Tolou Keur gardens are designed to improve food security, slow desertification, and provide livelihoods within communities living just south of the Sahara Desert.

In this Reuters video from Boki Diawe, agricultural engineer Aly Ndiaye explains Tolou Keur gardens, a relatively new approach to the Great Green Wall reforestation project. The African-led effort is a multi-country initiative conceived to stretch greenery approximately 8,000 kilometers (5,000 miles) across Africa’s arid Sahel region. Ndiaye envisions the Tolou Keur gardens linking together across the country.

planting circular, drought-resistant gardens
These Senegalese farmers plant the spiraling gardens with a plan to hold water: Medicinal plants in the inner circle, three rows of vegetables, with fruit and nut trees next. The outer circles are created with large baobab trees and African mahogany trees.

But that’s just one of 20 different versions of these circular gardens, which can be tailored to the soil and climate conditions of each region, as well as integrated into existing farms. From Atlas Obscura:

Letting famers lead the way—such as by tending shrubs and trees birthed from roots, seeds, and stumps in a practice known as farmer-managed natural regeneration—“is a much better approach…” Leveraging local agricultural practices is also key. In Burkina Faso, for instance, farmers speckle still-empty fields with shallow pits known as zai that trap rain and can soak future roots. They also spread manure in order to encourage termites to tunnel through and aerate the soil. (Researchers have found that the insects’ work can also boost nutrients and provide other benefits that improve crop yields.) Incorporating practices like these into future gardens can honor indigenous knowledge about the best ways to work in local conditions.

Senegal's Tolou Keur from above
reforestation
Then watch more videos about agroforestry:
• Growing 500 edible plants in a forest
• The Future of Food: Can we create the “perfect” farm?
• How Can Farms and Forests Coexist?
• The Maya Milpa Cycle, a sustainable forest gardening method

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