In the fall of 2015 I will be starting on a major project which has been my dream for over a decade. The core of the project is to set up a women's cooperative in Mali to grow West African indigo. But the indigo farm is a far larger vision; although indigo will be central to the project's success, the farm itself will be a permaculture farm, incorporating crops of indigenous Malian heritage fruits and vegetables as well as sheep, goats and chickens. The land on which the farm will be made is also going to be a showcase for reforestation and for teaching local people the importance of maintaining the stands of forest in this area. I aim to plant trees which are particularly used for food, medicine, and of course, dye stuff.
In the longer term, this project aims to transform the farmed indigo into indigo powder and dried leaves to make available commercially to international indigo dyers , and to train local women to use the indigo for dyeing and then to assist them to have access to the international market with their textiles. At the same time I have a vision to share all of this with international visitors; I want to build a centre which will allow a cross-cultural and cross-disciplinary exchange between local and international students, designers, dyers, farmers and everybody who shares these passions. I want local people to understand that their culture and their raw materials have value, not just for themselves, but for the international community. And I want people to be able to come from abroad and deepen their understanding of this part of West Africa.
This is a very big project with many stages. It has taken me many years to acquire the land and to be in a position to start farming. I am very excited to be starting, and I will update here and on my instagram account @aboubakarfofana as the project gets underway.