Our newly introduced seed ball technology (see website and/or project report) can potentially increase our reforestation efforts many-fold, while it is fun for old and young.
Why teach making seed balls?
This idea is inspired by the lessons learned from our cookstove project in Tsaramandroso. There people prefer to make charcoal by hand, instead of using the mechanical ‘hand and hammer’ tool developed by Zahana. (More about that at another time.) While the hand and hammer is more efficient to produce charcoal bio-briquettes, making it by hand is something they can do ‘on the side’ while they sit around, relax and chat after a long day in the field.
Charcoal briquettes inspired the seed ball project
The plan: Get people together to make seed balls. In the workshop you learn about gathering and mixing the ingredients. Initially you use the tree seeds provided by Zahana, but are also encouraged to collect some seeds in your area. Soon everybody will be making their 100 seed balls while chatting away. Many people working together on a common goal and chatting is a great educational opportunity: you can talk about the importance of reforestation. Not as a boring lecture, but focusing on the positive impact of reforestation and the importance of trees for their children and grandchildren. And the role of collecting native tree seeds versus ‘outside’ trees for their seed balls. Especially grandparents are always interested in their grandchildren’s future. As elders, they themselves are respected teachers in their community. If they in turn are inspired to teach how to make seed balls the workshop becomes a train-the-trainers session.
That’s our theoretical frame work for our school seed ball education project.
Children are having fun throwing seed balls all over the landscape. If they only had enough seed balls they might play this game endlessly.
Around August, schools in Madagascar are on winter break for two months. This leaves our students with nothing to do, especially if they’re still too small to work in the fields with their parents. But it also leaves our teachers in limbo, because they are not working.
So, we started an experiment for the school break in 2021: The teachers work during the break. They get their students together in the school yard to make thousands of seed balls. Our team already acquired tree seeds and delivered it to our schools. We encourage our teachers to think creatively and consider so many little hands forming seed balls together in the school grounds as a great opportunity for education. While they make clay seedballs the teachers can talk about reforestation, about the roles of trees in our lives, about washing hands etc.
Well, at least this is the plan for this winter break. Try something new, and literally field test if it works.
Two things are already guaranteed: it keeps our kids busy and out of mischief and our teachers gainfully employed. And if we end up with hopefully thousands of seed balls we have over 200 volunteers that will most willingly throw them all over creation. This leads to the next exciting field test: do seed balls actually work? After all, only time and (hopefully) the next rainy season will tell. But having a few thousand seed balls for this experiment at hand to fling, sure can’t hurt.
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