BTC instructor teaches composting in West Africa

January 13, 2012

From blueridgenow.com: “Wisconsin, African farmers join in soil-building project” —  Tony and Dela Ends, formerly of Hendersonville and now farming in Wisconsin, are volunteering in January to teach West African farmers composting techniques.

America’s oldest non-profit cooperative development program is sending the organic vegetable growers to Senegal. The ongoing soil-building project in that Atlantic Coastal nation is one of 20 long-term initiatives on three continents of the National Cooperative Business Association.

Tony Ends, who turned 21 in Senegal as a Peace Corps volunteer in 1975, is going back to that nation for the first time in 35 years. Tony Ends taught English for two years in a public school in Senegal. He then worked in newspapers for 14 years, including nearly five years as a copy editor at the Hendersonville Times-News.

With his wife Dela and family, Tony worked to establish Scotch Hill Farm on returning to Wisconsin to work for the Janesville Gazette 18 years ago. The certified organic farm, 17 miles west of Janesville, now grows more than 100 varieties of vegetables, small grains and hay on 41 acres.

While living in Hendersonville, Tony and Dela hosted Hamidou Sakhanokho, who completed studies for a two-year horticulture degree at then Blue Ridge Technical College. Hamidou went on to complete agriculture and plant sciences degrees and earning master’s and doctoral degrees. He is a researcher for the USDA in Alabama.

Composting is a method of blending different types of decaying plant and animal matter to make humus. It is one of the ways organic growers restore and enrich soil for cultivating crops.

Senegal, a nation about the size of South Dakota, lies on the edge of the Sahara Desert. Farmers in much of the region struggle to produce grain from sorghum, millet, corn and peanuts in soil types where sand predominates in often hot, dry climate.

After the two-week assignment in Senegal, the Ends will return from Africa through Europe. They will interview students for farm internships and give talks on organic agriculture at a school near Sulzburg, Austria. They also hope to visit oil seed crop farms that process their own food-grade vegetable oils and make bio-fuels on-farm.

Dela, the daughter of Jim and Nancy Morton, has been teaching organic gardening for several years at Blackhawk Technical College in Monroe. Tony has also worked with soil scientists, agronomists and educators as a communications coordinator and grant writer in sustainable agriculture research.

The NCBA helped found and fund in 1945 the program that became CARE, which helped rebuild war-torn Europe. It has since been active in more than 100 countries with more than 200 programs to build democratic institutions and provide technical assistance to grassroots development efforts abroad.

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