Eden Foundation

Eden Foundation

Founded 1985 in Sweden
Active in Tanout, Niger, since 1987

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Geographical Location

Empowering Teenage Girls in Africa

In their line of work, the Eden field workers regularly meet inspired children and teenagers, who have taken upon themselves the responsibility of ensuring that the family's Eden fruits are made use of to their fullest. Because their parents joined Eden years ago, these youngsters have grown up with immediate access to Eden trees. To them, the trees represent solid purchasing power, as the fruits that come in different seasons can be sold on a weekly basis at the nearest marketplace. With an average yearly harvest of €74 per household, this is a tremendous economical boost for the Eden families in the Tanout area.

Fajigana with her new t-shirt and silver jewelry

At the well, we meet Fajigana and her younger sisters, whose family joined Eden 14 years ago. Fajigana says that she is a great collector of Eden fruits and that she often sells them at the market. With the money she earns, she likes to buy clothes and jewelry!

Safiya harvesting Eden fruits

Outside of her village, Safiya is busy harvesting Eden fruits, which she intends to sell at the market in order to buy herself a new t-shirt.

Zaratu poses with a sample of Eden fruits

Zaratu’s family joined the Eden program 14 years ago. She is very happy with the many Eden trees now growing in their field. "In my family, I am the one collecting the Eden fruits", she proudly explains. "I harvest all of it and I don't miss a single season." She regularly sells the fruit at the market. "With some of the money I earn, I help my parents out by buying things they need for the household!"

Farmer Musa joined the Eden program 13 years ago. "Thanks to your seeds, I have trees growing in the field, and because of them, my children are now busy selling fruit every week. When they come back, they always bring something special from the market for the whole family to enjoy. I am so pleased!"

Hadisa poses with Eden fruits under her elder sister's watchful eye...

Hadisa’s family joined Eden 13 years ago. When Eden comes to visit, she proudly presents some of the fruits that the family has harvested. Her elder sister Nafisa, however, is not quite as pleased as she sees her younger sister heading off with the fruits. She calls after Hadisa and tells her to make sure to bring the Eden fruit back where it belongs! "In this household," Nafisa says, "I am in charge of the Eden fruits. There is one quantity to be sold at the market and another to be eaten at home, and if anyone wants more fruit than what is on the plate, they have to clear that with me! That's why I had to come out to see where my younger sister was going with the fruits. You see, unless you keep a watchful eye, they simply disappear!"

Jamila, Nafisa and Masawdu

In the same village as Hadisa lives Nafisa, whose family joined the Eden program 11 years ago. When Nafisa sees her brother Masawdu holding up Eden fruits for the camera, she comes running. "We are all good fruit collectors in this household," she tells Eden as she positions herself next to her brother. In the background, her elder sister Jamila agrees. "We all help out harvesting,” Jamila says, “but it is I who sell the fruit at the market and buy what the family needs. I always check with my mother first to see what she wants. After all, she's responsible for guarding the fruit once it's stored here at home and she makes sure that none of it gets eaten before I can take it to the market." When asked about their father's input in the matter, Jamila stops pounding her millet and thinks for a while, then says: "He's responsible for watching the trees in the field!" - to which they all burst out laughing.

Fasuma and her sisters

In another Eden village, we meet Fasuma and her two sisters. They proudly announce that they are the best Eden fruit collectors in the entire village. "We never miss a season, because one of us is always out checking the trees to see what fruit species are ripening." The different tree species yield fruit in different seasons, which is why many of our households can harvest from their Eden Gardens all year round. Fasuma and her sisters are keen to talk about the benefits of their trees. "We sell a large part of the fruit we collect, and with the money we earn, we help our parents out. Do you see the fine clothes we are wearing? We bought those! We even bought our own feast clothes at the Tabaski feast, so you see how we help our parents out!" In Niger, it is tradition for parents to buy their children new clothes for the two main celebration of the year, Ramadan and Tabaski, but not everyone can afford it. According to Fasuma and her sisters however, their parents are not in need, because their father is very rich in Eden grass. "He just doesn't take it to the market and sell it weekly like we do," Fasuma explains, "but waits for that time of year when prices go up and the Eden grass gets very expensive."

Mariya and her Eden fruit

Mariya’s family joined the Eden program 11 years ago. Like her elder sisters, Mariya has married and moved to another village. Her husband's village, however, is not an Eden village, and so she regularly travels back to her parents in order to harvest Eden fruit. When showing samples of what she has collected, she explains that her other married sisters follow her example, returning to their parents' village in order to harvest Eden fruit, which they then bring back to their own village. Her parents of course are happy to have their elder daughters come back so often, which cannot be expected in a country where few can afford to travel so much.

More than twenty years ago, Eden met a population that had resigned to its fate, without hope for a better future. Because trees were believed to attract unwanted birds that would eat the meagre millet harvests, they were seen as a menace and were destroyed at an alarming rate. Eden's field station, however, has shown people the positive effects of trees in a field, and thanks to this their attitude towards them has changed. Today, Eden trees are fully incorporated into our farmers' lives, and the Eden families can depend on them, as nature's pantry provides a reliable source of income even in years of low rainfall, when millet crops fail (which they do, at regular intervals).

Eden is thrilled to see this new culture of energetic enterprising emerge amongst the younger generation, who thanks to their parents' commitment years ago, have Eden trees growing in the fields. Many of these youngsters have not even known a time without Eden fruit! In an area where the population was long weighed down by fatalism and resignation, this next generation of farmers are taking matters into their own hands as the riches of the Lost Treasures of Eden are being rediscovered.