Solar Community Garden – Ghana

Exploring the possible impact of a Solar-Powered Community Garden in Agbokpa, Ghana

Coming Soon: The ability for you to contribute to our Kickstarter campaign. In the meantime please see our proposed Kickstarter video for a great summary of project.

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This photo gives an idea of what the community we are working with, Agbokpa, Ghana, looks like!
Source: Photo by Casella Slater (Oct 2014)

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Meet our team! From the left: Maddi, David, Brentyn, and Kat.

Problem Definition

As captured by this GapMinder graph, Ghana (2011) is a country’s whose GDP is largely dependent on Agriculture, especially in comparison to other countries. However Ghana is also very low in relation to income per person among the rest of the world’s nations. This suggests an interesting truth about Ghana: agriculture stands at the heart of the macro- economy and yet the current agricultural infrastructure is not contributing to the economic well-being on an individual civilian level.

Given this national context, our group sees a large potential for the appropriate technology of solar-powered water pumps and gravity fed irrigation systems to maximize the efficiency and profit of individual agricultural efforts in Agbokpa, Ghana.

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Source: Gapminder. (n.d.). Retrieved November 3, 2015.

Insufficient water harnessing resources leave a lakeside village in Ghana, Agbokpa , with no efficient way to sustain water-intensive crops during the dry season which is approximately half a year long. Agbokpa is primarily comprised of farmers who make a living by selling their surplus crops [crops not used to feed their families] at nearby markets. Therefore, for approximately half of the year, the majority of the village is not able to make the maximum salary due to an inability to grow certain crops because of lack of water.

carrying water from Lake.JPG

As illustrated in the photo above, the Agbokpa villagers currently harness their water directly from the lake using buckets. It is not feasible to harness all the necessary water to sustain a farm during the dry season which forces them to look toward alternative forms of income during this time; primarily charcoal burning. This brings up another potential benefit of the solar-powered garden, it could potentially lessen the need for charcoal burning which has a negative effect on the global environment. However, we must further consider the cultural and social implications that such a switch might have.

Project Goals

1. Create a profitable business model for solar powered gardens including cost and ROI analysis

2. Raise the necessary funds to cover the costs for the implementation of the project (grants or crowd-funding)

3. Implement a network of solar panels to generate the electricity needed to pump and gravity-feed lake water to land plots used to grow crops

4. Use this community as a pilot and data-source to propose more widespread implementation of solar-powered gardens in other villages/areas/countries facing similar problems.

We understand that not all of these project goals will be met within Fall Quarter. We will work toward goals 1 &2 as tangible short term goals that can ultimately lead to the realization of the longer-term goals 3 &4

Personal Goals

1. Learn about the daily life in Agbokpa village while keeping an open mind

2. To help this community in a humble and self-aware manner. We want to be sure that we are not imposing our own ideas without a complete understanding of the village’s needs.

3. Connect with and learn from local Ghanaians about their culture and views of development

Our Project Resources:

Project Updates
Click here to stay up-to-date about the status of our project

The Agbokpa Community
Click here for more information about the community we are working with: Agbokpa

The Business Model
Click here for more information about the cost structure, ROI analysis for the project, and our fundraising efforts

The Solar Powered Water Pump
Click here for more information on the appropriate technology of solar-powered water pumps and gravity fed irrigation systems

Stakeholder Analysis
Click here for more information regarding the ‘key-players’ who have interest in this project’s implementation

Our Experience
Click here for more information about our group’s experience with this project including our struggles, concerns, and realizations about the project

Other Resources:

About our team

Maddi Fleming: Second-year Industrial Technology student with a minor is packaging and Sustainable Environments. She is originally from Santa Barbara and has a passion for traveling, cooking, and learning, and helping others.


Kat Tran: Third year Molecular Biology. Growing up in Vietnam with little to no technology, she is fascinated with how things are the way they are. Her passion is learning so that she can help her community and better herself.

Brentyn Carder: Third year architecture student from Sacramento. Brentyn has worked for 6 years at an architectural firm that works on community buildings and other projects. He also enjoys being involved in volunteer work with helping kids learn to play sports and recreational activities.

David Guerrero: Fourth year Business student concentrating in Information Systems.
San Luis Obispo local. An empathetic person who loves being in nature and strives to better “one’s self.” Has a passion for surfing and everything outdoors.

Excellent website. Please make some changes. Reorganize the information to put some numbers up front. Look over my comments to your calculations. Move all my comments in red to the very bottom of your website so I can refer to what I wrote, but the reader won’t be inconvenienced by my comments. The website in its present condition will earn an “A”, but please keep working on it. I think you might spend a little more time with your Stakeholder’s Analysis. In particular, spend some time thinking about what David is like, what his motivation is. He is crucially important to the success of this project. I’ve asked a few successful NGOs what made them successful and the answer I remember is, that they found a “champion” on the ground.

In my opinion, this brings up an important (but sticky) consideration. People may not think they need irrigated crops because they are content to “farm” charcoal. However, this is something they shouldn’t do… and who are we to say what they should and shouldn’t do? … that’s the sticky part. In any case, people change lifestyles hard. They may not see value in irrigated off season crops until they or someone they know is making more money farming in the dry season than making charcoal. How do we collaboratively engage with people under this scenario. Can we communicate to them what we are thinking? It sounds kind of patronizing. We would have to find a way to be genuine, sincere, and yet strategic and consistent with our own values.