School garden (crops had been recently harvested!)
The school year in Nepal runs from April through March, with time off throughout the year. When I visited Nepal in early March, therefore, the Agriculture in Schools program was getting ready to wind up for the year. However, I was able to visit one of the three schools in which we offer this valuable program, to observe a class and see the garden.
The three participating schools during the past year were Lamanagi Lower Secondary School, Kshamawati Higher Secondary School, and Sitka Higher Secondary School. At each school, about 20 children aged 10-14 took part in Agriculture in Schools, which has two primary components:
- A classroom component - our agricultural specialists instruct children in techniques of growing various nutritious foods, and help them to develop an appreciation for the immense importance and worth of agricultural work, and
- A hands-on component - each school has a large garden in which participants put into practice the knowledge they've gained in the classroom. They do it all, from tilling to planting to weeding to harvesting!
It's worth noting that all program participants are the children of women who are members of ETC's women's groups, so their families are deeply involved with ETC! They also pass along what they have learned to their farming families, helping ensure the transfer of useful knowledge, resulting in greater quantities of more nutritious food being grown by and for hundreds of village residents.
There is no charge for children to participate in this program. ETC provides the materials (seeds, tools, etc.) and the expert staff; the school allows use of a portion of its grounds for the garden.
In the past few months, we also held a special training session about vegetable and flower gardening; 31 children from two of the participating schools took place. Flower cultivation is important in Nepal for religious purposes, because flowers are widely used for daily devotions as well as during holidays and for special ceremonies. Flowers can be an important cash crop for families seeking to increase their household incomes!
When I visited in early March, the winter crops grown at the school gardens had been largely harvested already. Participants' families were able to eat the food, adding additional nutrition and variety to their diets.
ETC is very grateful for your support of our Agriculture in Schools program! If you would like to learn about our ongoing Sustainable Agriculture work in rural Nepal, please click on the links below to visit our other GlobalGiving project, or to visit our website.
PLEASE NOTE that June 12th is another GlobalGiving Bonus Day! If you contribute to our Sustainable Agriculture project on that day beginning at 9:00 a.m. Eastern Daylight Time, your contribution is eligible to be matched at 30%!
ETC's agricultural officer leading a class