Notable Edibles Winter 2011 Issue

Wisconsin Feeding the World—One African Garden at a Time

By Wendy Allen 0

Slow Food Madison is beginning an exciting, long term “sister community” project with a neighborhood in Dakar, Senegal, as part of the Slow Food Foundation for Biodiversity’s “One Thousand Gardens of Africa” project. The One Thousand Gardens project ambitiously aims to “create a thousand food gardens in schools, villages and on the outskirts of cities in 26 African countries.” Slow Food Madison connected with a group of musicians and dancers in Dakar named Kabillo Percussion through Yaya Kambaye, a SenegaWilese musician who now lives in Milwaukee. With Growing Power, other friends in the U.S. and Kabillo Percussion, Slow Food Madison will help build the Kabillo Community Center with a goal of making it a hub for learning and community building in Dakar.

Every aspect of the community center will be integrated. An urban garden will grow traditional foods to supply a café and hostel, which will provide jobs and additional income to support the center’s programs which will teach urban farming practices in the garden and revive traditional arts like dance and music that are at risk of being forgotten. “With all of the chaos in the world today, we are proud of this initiative that builds friendships between people from around the world and helps improve food security, environmental sustainability and standard of living,” says Genya Erling, founder of Slow Food UW and currently a leader at Slow Food Madison. In May, Genya will be leading a Slow Food UW student group on a three-week trip to Dakar to help with the project and learn more about traditional agriculture and arts. Applications are being accepted now.

Financing is very difficult in Senegal, so Slow Food Madison and Kabillo Percussion will be purchasing each piece of the project as they can afford it. The first step is to buy the land and begin construction of the community center.

You can support their efforts with a tax-deductible donation by contacting Genya at, or watch the project’s blog and Facebook page for upcoming fundraiser events. If you are a UW Madison student, or know a student who is a traveler and community builder, contact Genya for more details about the May trip and to submit an application.


Wendy Allen is digital editor, copy editor, and a writer for Edible Madison. She reads style guides for fun, believes stories have power, and is fascinated by the evolution of the English languageā€”for better or worse. Her mission: to wrestle the wily comma into submission.

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