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December 3, 2016    BLACK LOCUST PROJECT

The following is an example of how both sides of the ocean work together to make a project happen.

Information is gathered, written in pamphlet form and sent via email. In this case the information is printed out and carried in person to the project persons on the other end. You’ll notice quite a bit of empty space between each line – this is for the purposes of translating into the spoken language for better understanding.

Black Locust (Robinia pseudoacacia) is in the pea family Fabaceae.

It is native to the southeastern US, but has been widely planted elsewhere around the world.

black-locust-flowers

The intensely fragrant (reminiscent of orange blossoms) Flowers are white to lavender or purple.

Flowers: May or June, after the leaves.

 

Bees and pollinators LOVE this tree and it will attract them, which will help pollinate the fruit trees.

 

Honey:  is extremely light colored, lemon – white or yellow-green, The flavor is very sweet.

 

Soils: Prefer sandy or rocky soil (no clay) and do well in wide range of pH. Stops soil erosion.

 

Nitrogen: Fixes nitrogen into the soil and helps to “feed” young fruit trees.

 

Sun: Full sun, grows very fast and can survive drought and harsh winters.

 

Food: Seeds are POISONOUS to humans.

 

Flowers: Excellent food for honey bees and native pollinators.

 

Fuel: Excellent for firewood, very dense, both full growth and in coppiced form.

 

Animal food: Don’t feed too much of the leaves to chickens or cows. Goats can tolerate the leaves.

 

Construction: Does not rot, can be used for fence poles, pegs, boxes, crates and trellises for grapes.

 

This wood is exceptional. Round posts from locust are currently in high demand in the US and sell for $6 to $12, depending on size and quality.  Poles can be worth several times that, and are also in demand for applications like hops plantation trellises, pilings and pole barn construction.  Black locust lumber retails for $3 to $6 per board foot.

 

Coppicing: This is a method of cutting the tree back in the fall. In the spring new shoots appear and grow very quickly.

 

black-locust-coppicing

Black locust trees can be used as living fences. Planted closely (1.5M) apart, alternate between full growth and coppiced tree along the living fence line; the taller non-coppiced trees provide shade and visual barrier over 3 meters, the coppiced trees branch out horizontally to protect and contain smaller livestock.

 

black-locust-fence

When the tree is allowed to grow larger this can be made:

black-locust-poles

We love this tree. Many people in the northern temperate climates (rain) speak poorly about the tree because of the thorns and how “ugly” it looks.

 

In the desert life is different and every tree is precious. We see this tree as our partner because it has so many valuable qualities; it grows quickly (10 feet in 3 years) with very little water, feeds bees, hummingbirds, & deer, provides shade, provides mulch, improves soil by fixing nitrogen, strengthens fruit tree growth when inter-planted, provides birds a place to perch (and drop fertilizer).

 

How to germinate black locust seeds.

 

  • Take these seeds, heat up water but no hotter than your hand can tolerate.
  • Place the seeds in the water for 1 hour.
  • Remove and plant in a nursery pot.
  • The next year, when plant is 1 foot high, plant into the ground.

 

October 31, 2016     CHICKEN PROJECT

New Developments

This year, a 44 meter Afghanistan Samsortya funded Well was completed in Jalalabad. This Well provides the water necessary to irrigate the Samsortya nursery and provide clean, potable water for nearby families in Jalalabad. Additionally, over 500 chickens have been redistributed to local families this summer through the Nangarhar Chicken Project. Afghanistan Samsortya thanks you for your ongoing support of our important work.

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Nangarhar Chicken Project

One of the most exciting projects that Afghanistan Samsortya works on is the initiative to purchase and distribute chickens and other livestock to the families of Nangarhar Province. The primary drive behind this project has been a dire need for healthy and nutritious food inside Afghanistan and the shortcomings of international aid organizations in fulfilling this need. Friends, allies, and gracious donors to Afghanistan Samsortya have worked together to raise money to purchase chickens and other livestock in order to supplement local nutrition in Nangarhar. The project is a fundamentally women-led initiative, as Afghan women are usually the heads of their households and are tasked daily with providing food for their children. In Afghanistan, half of all children develop irreversible health issues due to the severe childhood malnutrition. For children, protein is a particularly vital nutrient that encourages the growth and development of young bodies and minds. Our vision for the project is that women across Afghanistan will be able to start their children’s day with something as simple as eggs for breakfast.

How did this project come about?

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As we have stated in the past, projects initiate themselves through collaborative on the ground discussions as to the most important needs and how the logistics could take place. We don’t take new projects lightly when the first requests are made and we attempt to cover all considerations and meet the challenges inherent in each project. Often times, there are numerous hurdles to overcome.

What are the considerations?

Logistical

Utmost care in sourcing the healthiest poults

Chickens younger than poults are simply too fragile

Paying the best price to a trustworthy source

Determining the right number of egg layers for each family

Expenses of coops, coop building supplies

Providing feed for the chickens initially

Social

It took us by surprise back in 2014 during a fundraiser when a potential American Vegan donor turned indignant over this project and declared publicly on our FB fundraiser page that she was taking her 50,000 followers somewhere else. We were stunned.

Another example of bridging the gap of understanding across the ocean occurred during a  conversation between myself and Dr. Raqib. I suggested the chickens could be fed table scraps or even scraps from food waste thrown out by restaurants, Universities, companies to supplement their diet. Dr. Raqib is a very patient person and explained there are no scraps available as those scraps are selected by hungry persons. I was stunned, how could I have missed this?

Both of these examples illustrate the difficulty humans have grasping how large complex problems are all interconnected. I can tell you it takes an enormous amount of self-effort to detox from the insulated Disneyland effect created by one nation garnering 25% of all the world’s energy & resources, and deconstruct the hocus pocus exclamations of free markets, opportunity, specialist careers and have all you  want when you want it forever! Once the deconstruction is underway the dark side of Disneyland begins to emerge with the realization that the Earth, and therefore her resources are in fact quite limited and it turns out all wars are resource wars – no exception. The American Vegan gal so indignant, does not realize this yet (if ever) that her position is a privileged position delivered to her doorstep through the mechanisms of cheaply extracted oil with the words – love, your superpower expansionist friend. I, in turn, need to double down on coming up with a workable design to feed chickens in a closed loop system, as in, a household.

Environmental

Provide shade for poults during the hot season

Provide heat and shelter in colder regions

Always use low tech locally sourced supplies and avoid materials that may draw attention to the household – yes this is often a very serious consideration.

Key Design Proposal

Out in the rural areas where chickens are kept, we have already started a program of planting mixed species of shrubs and trees that provide multiple uses and help protect the chickens; Siberian pea shrub and black locust tree both being thorned act as a defensive barrier, the former providing wind protection, the latter providing fire wood and building material.

In populated Cities with enclosed courtyards and qalas we are working on a closed loop system that provides all the necessary requirements for keeping chickens while honoring the safety of the families tending to them and coming up with the best design possible for success.

cheers,

sheila