Michigan Farmer Trains Youth in Ghana on Good Greenhouse Practices
Recently Jeff Westendorp, greenhouse manager at Walters Gardens in Zeeland, Michigan, sent us an article about his experience on the West Africa Farmer-to-Farmer program implemented by ACDI/VOCA. I’d like to run it here in its entirety:
On October 29, 2016, I left a warm and fall-colored West Michigan for the arid savannah of Wa, Ghana. For the second time in as many years, I participated in the Farmer-to-Farmer (F2F) program. It's a program financed by USAID and is playing an important role in strengthening rural development around the world. The program focuses on upgrading capacity-building, supporting rural value chains, promoting gender equality and facilitating strategic alliances with public, academic, private and international cooperation.
The strategy of Farmer-to-Farmer is to provide individual farmers and associations in developing countries with knowledge, skills and appropriate technologies from U.S. volunteers with a skill set that matches the need the association is requesting. I had the privilege to serve the F.I.C St. Louis Education Complex in Wa, Ghana, located in the Upper West Region of Ghana, a boarding school providing education for students age 5 to 15.
In 2015, a 20-ft. x 50-ft. greenhouse was donated for the purpose of growing food for the students. Tomatoes are the first primary focus. The first harvest was good, but growth cracks and blossom end rot eroded the yield. They wanted help decreasing the losses. They also had a larger goal in training teachers to teach greenhouse management principles for fruit and vegetable production to students, priming the interest in horticulture for the next generation.