Apply to Join
 Children  Kenya Project #34929

Seeds and Support for School Gardens Worldwide

by Seed Programs International
Seeds and Support for School Gardens Worldwide
Seeds and Support for School Gardens Worldwide
Seeds and Support for School Gardens Worldwide
Seeds and Support for School Gardens Worldwide
Seeds and Support for School Gardens Worldwide
Seeds and Support for School Gardens Worldwide
Seeds and Support for School Gardens Worldwide
Seeds and Support for School Gardens Worldwide
Seeds and Support for School Gardens Worldwide
Seeds and Support for School Gardens Worldwide
Seeds and Support for School Gardens Worldwide
Seeds and Support for School Gardens Worldwide
Seeds and Support for School Gardens Worldwide
Seeds and Support for School Gardens Worldwide
Clearing space for a garden at the dar taliba
Clearing space for a garden at the dar taliba

Hi Folks,

We are happy to report that this update comes from our Peace Corps partners in Morocco. Peace Corps Morocco volunteers serve in remote, mostly rural areas, focusing on empowering youth and local communities. Seeds are used to teach students about agriculture and environmental issues, assist in starting local garden projects, and encourage the community to grow some of their own food. Seed distribution and planting is a multifaceted activity. In fact, most volunteers used the seed program as an opportunity to teach about the environment, botany, agriculture, and keep people linked to their land with an understanding of botanical life.

A large portion of this activity occurs in youth centers and boarding schools. Making these establishments not only a place of learning for the children, but also a hub for the local community. One Peace Corps Volunteer shares a story on this topic:

My garden project took place at the dar taliba (girls boarding school) in my community, a dormitory for girls from the surrounding rural communities who study at my site's middle and high schools during the week. The building has a large outdoor courtyard area, most of which was largely untended — and provided a great space for a garden! A group of girls from the dar taliba worked with me between their classes on each step of the garden, from pulling weeds and removing rocks to breaking up the soil to planting. It quickly became a project for the whole dar taliba community; the women who run the building and the cooks often joined us as well. The cooks hope to use the vegetables from the garden in the meals they prepare for the girls during the week.

Because the girls at the dar taliba come from smaller, rural communities, many of their families have gardens at home. They were both excited to plant vegetables they grow at home and curious to learn about varieties they had never seen before. Our time in the garden so far has also provided a wonderful opportunity for conversation and cultural exchange, as we've discussed everything from Ramadan to gardening in the United States while breaking up the soil and planting seeds. I'm really grateful we had access to these seeds.”

- Abby Senuty, Peace Corps Morocco Volunteer

Environmental awareness and stewardship plays a large part in Peace Corps Morocco’s message. This past Earth Day, many of the schools and youth centers focused on planting.

“During Earth Day, there were presentations on the environment and then after the kids made bird feeders and these little planter bottles where we gave the kids seeds for their planters! We still have some seeds left over and are planning to do similar planters at our preschool.”

- Maggie Blackburn, Peace Corps Morocco Volunteer

“I have used some of the seeds sent to me for an activity during Earth Day. Because there is no open space for a garden at the local Dar Chebab, we chose to plant the seeds in cardboard boxes to practice reusing and recycling local materials. The students will take turns watering the plants, and we eventually hope to find a spot to transplant them in the future.”

- Ilana Shapiro, Peace Corps Morocco Volunteer

We hope to have more reports to share from Peace Corps Morocco as they continue growing inspiration and wonder in children with just a little seed and knowledge. It is through support like yours that SPI can continue partnerships like these all over the globe. Thank you for your trust and support of SPI and our partners.

With gratitude,

The SPI Team

Planting at the dar taliba
Planting at the dar taliba
Planting Earth Day seedlings
Planting Earth Day seedlings
Starting garden seedlings in Tighomar, Morocco
Starting garden seedlings in Tighomar, Morocco
Ready to grow!
Ready to grow!
Second place winners at the agricultural fair
Second place winners at the agricultural fair

Hi folks,

4-H Liberia is a long-term SPI partner who has been accomplishing good work with students through school gardens for years. Their school-based clubs have reached over 4,000 young people over six counties, serving students between the ages of 13 and 25. 4-H Liberia’s garden programs empower young people to become self-sufficient citizens by developing their potential in premier leadership, agricultural sustainability, and essential life skills.

Each school club maintains their own garden, which serves as a platform for learning agriculture. These school gardens are a way to:

  • Equip students to become competent and self-sufficient in food production
  • Scout out future farmers
  • Inspire students to become productive citizens
  • Enhance students’ potential in premier leadership

As part of their support for youth development, 4-H Liberia has integrated a commitment to gender equity into their programs — almost half of their members are young women, many of whom are in leadership positions alongside their male peers. Their staff and students understand better than anybody that the empowerment of women and girls in Liberia is not where it should be in this day and age. They see it in their homes and communities, much like many other places around the world. 4-H Liberia Executive Director Umaru Sheriff repeatedly shares his mantra with his staff and students, “when you enable a girl or a woman to be in charge of her future and livelihood, you become part of the change and development of communities, and it makes waves of positive changes that raise everyone, including boys and men.” This is only one of the reasons we’re proud to be in partnership with 4-H Liberia!

Annual Agricultural Fair

Each year, 4-H Liberia hosts an agricultural fair in Monrovia where students participate in workshops and educational competitions about their school gardens, agriculture, and agribusiness. Students from 42 schools throughout Bomi, Montserrado, Bong, Margibi, Lofa, and Gbarpolu Counties gathered in January to celebrate the theme: Grow Liberia — Promote Youth In Agriculture.

Six of the schools were chosen as finalists who earned points by answering trivia about nutrition and gardening. Points were also earned through debate, dramatic presentation, and public speaking meant to share their challenges and successes from the past year. Mr. Alvin Wesseh, Assistant Minister for Regional Development Research and Extension, presented the competition awards after delivering his keynote later in the day.

The fair and accompanying school garden competition are the culmination of the 4-H school garden program. Students extend their education by learning the business of agriculture, networking with government officials, and participating in market activities like exhibiting and selling their crops. Umaru outlines the goals of the fair:

  • Train young men and women in improved agricultural science and techniques that they will use to impact other youth, parents, and community leaders
  • Allow students to share ideas through communication and leadership training.
  • Encourage students in pursuing agriculture as a science and a business by rewarding them for their hard work in the school garden with this event.
  • Help young people see agriculture as a profitable business and viable livelihood removing the stereotype that agriculture is a poor person’s job.

Remarks from Mr. Sheriff

During the fair, Umaru shared more about the early days of 4-H Liberia, their work in the community, and what is needed to move forward. A recent report about the fair reads:

“Mr. Sheriff mentioned the successes of 4-H Liberia, how it grew from 3 clubs in 2006 to a little over 80 clubs in 6 of the 15 counties in Liberia at present. He further stated that training received by the students at the 4-H Club’s meetings or on the field is taken back home by the club members to practically train their parents in improved agriculture techniques.

He said besides teaching students in agricultural education, the field officers of 4-H Liberia are also helping local farmers within the school community improve agricultural techniques for income generation. Mr. Daniel Mollay, a 4-H Liberia field officer assigned in Lofa County organized farmers, and they planted pepper. The total amount raised from the sale of the pepper was L$ 300,000 (US$1875.00).

He mentioned that the 4-H Club’s agriculture curriculum, leadership guide and the enterprise curriculum printed by the partnership of 4-H Liberia and the United States Africa Development Foundation are all worn out. The students, teachers and the 4-H field officers are going through challenges in teaching without the printed curriculum, and this is presently hampering the growth of 4-H in Liberia; the field officer's motorbikes purchased by the Ralph C. Norman Foundation in 2013 have lived their useful lives, causing serious challenge for the field officers to make regular follow-up visits to the schools. Mr. Sheriff called on the Government of Liberia, and International and National Partners to come to the aid of 4-H Liberia to help develop youth in agriculture.”

Umaru is a strong advocate for 4-H students and school gardens. He believes in the power of school gardens as a tool for education and economic empowerment. He recognizes that learning alone is not enough to facilitate livelihoods — it must be accompanied by access to resources and a viable market. This fair is an example of how he is helping to weave the future of Liberia’s youth.

We hope you found Umaru’s work with 4-H as inspiring as we did! We rely on your support to deepen our service to partners like 4-H Liberia. Thank you for your continued trust, and for your support of SPI and our partners.

With gratitude,

The SPI Team

 

All photos are courtesy of 4-H Liberia.

A student talks with a judge about what he
A student talks with a judge about what he's grown
First place winners at the agricultural fair
First place winners at the agricultural fair
Student-grown pineapple and sweet potatoes
Student-grown pineapple and sweet potatoes
A judge quizzes a student about nutrition
A judge quizzes a student about nutrition
Students at Valley Bridge Primary School, Nairobi
Students at Valley Bridge Primary School, Nairobi

Hi folks,

First, thank you to all of our early supporters! We’re really excited about this project. Not only do school gardens grow vegetables, they keep kids in school, provide lifelong agronomic skills, and become community hubs for nutrition and training. We know this from years of work with partners who host or coordinate school gardens. Over the years, our partners in Haiti, Honduras, Liberia, and Kenya (among others) have proven how vital school gardens can be for children and communities.

Today’s update is more personal than usual. In 2016, SPI Program Manager Naima Dido spent some time visiting several partners in her home country, Kenya. During her visit, Naima made a point to look up Valley Bridge Primary School, the school she attended as a child in Nairobi. This stop wasn’t only nostalgic — Naima spoke with the headmaster about establishing a school garden and partnering with SPI.

Why school gardens?

Naima quickly connected Valley Bridge with seeds to start a garden, and then followed up over the years to ensure that they had access to SPI seeds or locally-sourced seeds for subsequent seasons. Earlier this month, Naima reached out to the school’s headmaster, Mr. Mbugua, for an update about the school garden. Asked why he started the school garden program, he replied:

“Access to nutritious food is a motivator for many parents to send their children to school. As a teacher, my goal is to teach my student to not just merely exist, but to be part of the change we need. When children are not hungry, they are able to exercise their right to receive an education in school and beyond. That is is why I prioritized the school garden and expanded to join forces with neighboring schools.

We can already see evidence that our school gardens are increasing awareness of healthy nutritious eating and helping dispel the myth that farming is the trade for poor people. The gardens are also helping improve students’ understanding of our impact on the environment and attitudes towards the importance of environmental sustainability.”

The success of their first school garden project prompted them to expanded the program and include other schools. Now, four primary schools each have their own garden. He explained:

“The four schools are within a 30-minute walk of each other. It was important to us that the students see the project as a community effort. We also wanted to include a sense of competitiveness. Our goal is to host a garden fair that will include the best garden competition. Our children in Kenya are very motivated when it comes to competition with their peers. It also makes the project exciting with a reward at the end.”

Is farming cool?

Attitudes about farming can discourage students from participating in the garden project. What child wants to be uncool, right? Mr. Mbugua addresses this head-on by facilitating discussions about how farmers are perceived, and he also acts as a role model for aspiring students.

“I grow the same vegetable the students grow in my own garden at home. I believe farming is the answer to many of our challenges but it has been overlooked and seen as a very undesirable profession.

The first question we ask our student is: Why is food important? And we always end at everyone needs food. Doctors need food, teachers need food, politicians need food, and someone needs to grow that food. The projects elevate the status of the farmer to the most important person in the circle of our life.”

By showing farmers’ relevance, Mr. Mbugua is demonstrating the value of land stewardship and the livelihoods that stem from it. Valley Bridge Primary’s network of schools is engaging a generation of youth who will have the basic skills to enrich their communities as food entrepreneurs.

What’s next?

School gardens are one strategy to tackle the ongoing issue of hunger. This is the only way to break the cycle that has been passed down through the last two or three generations of people living in the slums.” — Mr. Mbugua, Valley Bridge Primary School Headmaster

So far, two schools have sowed SPI seeds and two schools sowed seeds purchased locally. Mr. Mbugua shared, “Most of the seeds from SPI did very well, but we had challenges with soil and pest control. The local seeds didn’t do as well, but they managed to produce something.” Looking forward, Naima has laid out a partnership plan with Mr. Mbugua to support the Nairobi school network with high-quality vegetable seeds.

With access to good resources, community and peer support, and a strong curriculum, these students are being positioned to build a strong network for food production. These livelihoods can form the foundation for greater health, economic growth, and resilience to crisis.

This project helps provide this kind of direct support — your donation has made this possible! From Mr. Mbugua, his students, and the team here at SPI, thank you!

Greetings from Valley Bridge in Nairobi, Kenya
Greetings from Valley Bridge in Nairobi, Kenya
Students in Liberia, Kenya, Haiti, Ethiopia (CW)
Students in Liberia, Kenya, Haiti, Ethiopia (CW)
 

About Project Reports

Project Reports on GlobalGiving are posted directly to globalgiving.org by Project Leaders as they are completed, generally every 3-4 months. To protect the integrity of these documents, GlobalGiving does not alter them; therefore you may find some language or formatting issues.

If you donate to this project or have donated to this project, you will get an e-mail when this project posts a report. You can also subscribe for reports via e-mail without donating.

Get Reports via Email

We'll only email you new reports and updates about this project.

Organization Information

Seed Programs International

Location: Asheville, NC - USA
Website:
Project Leader:
Peter Marks
Asheville, NC United States
$2,014 raised of $22,100 goal
 
27 donations
$20,086 to go
Donate Now Add Project to Favorites

Help raise money!

Support this important cause by creating a personalized fundraising page.

Start a Fundraiser

Learn more about GlobalGiving

Teenage Science Students
Vetting +
Due Diligence

Snorkeler
Our
Impact

Woman Holding a Gift Card
Give
Gift Cards

Young Girl with a Bicycle
GlobalGiving
Guarantee

Sign up for the GlobalGiving Newsletter

WARNING: Javascript is currently disabled or is not available in your browser. GlobalGiving makes extensive use of Javascript and will not function properly with Javascript disabled. Please enable Javascript and refresh this page.