Education  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

Connecting kids to where their food comes from hosts a myriad of benefits–cultivating a sense of place, curiosity and discovery, getting them engaged with the outdoors, and promoting health eating habits. This is even more impactful and important for kids who do not have access to adequate nutrition, or even three meals a day. 

With the Sustainable Community Initiative for Empowerment (SCINE), we are supporting school gardens in slum communities in Kampala, the capital of Uganda. Students living in urban slum communities in Kampala struggle with food insecurity and malnutrition, which can negatively impact health and academic performance. This has been compounded by two years of COVID-19 lockdowns, which caused a drastic increase in unemployment and severe food insecurity throughout urban areas in Uganda, and much of the world. Students have finally returned to school after a COVID-19 lockdown that closed all Ugandan schools for almost 2 years. Building a school garden will add nutritious fresh vegetables to their diets to improve the students’ nutrition and enable academic success.

Your support is helping us build climate smart school gardens throughout Kampala slum communities. We just started a school garden program at Golden Times Primary School. There are approximately 326 students at this school, with 10 teachers. Most of the students at Golden Times Primary struggle with food insecurity and lack of nutrition. The majority of their parents do not have a formal source of employment to provide steady income that would allow them to prioritize a healthy meal plan relevant for child growth. Through this program, we are supporting the establishment of the school agricultural club, and setting up a community garden, including the purchase of garden supplies, such as seeds, fencing materials, vertical planters, organic manure, watering cans, and hand sprayers. The food produced from the school garden will provide robust school lunches with important nutrition for the students. 

School gardens are outdoor classrooms and serve as living laboratories for any subject. Lots of activities can be taught in the garden, and you don’t necessarily need fancy tools to carry out lessons! You don’t need to be an avid seasoned gardener to use rulers to measure things, record changes. School gardens provide hands-on learning activities. Children can get their hands dirty with digging, tilling, planting, and harvesting. Schools can prepare and cook their produce from the garden to come full circle with the process.

Your support makes this work possible. We would like to expand significantly to more schools throughout Kampala’s urban center. With your help, we can do just that. 

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A student helping prep the greenhouse
A student helping prep the greenhouse

School gardens not only promote food literacy to our youth, but can supplement schools’ lunch programs with full-spectrum vitamins and minerals for growing brains and bodies. Even more, they can be a pillar of connection and community–a place to build self-confidence, get to know peers, and interact with the natural world. 

At Seed Programs International, school garden programs are a pillar of our work. After all, kids that go to school eat one third to one half of all of their meals at school. By centralizing one facet of our garden outreach through the vectors of school systems, we build impact regarding health indicators for school-aged children in the communities we serve. 

Today, we have updates from one of our school garden projects in Peña Blanda, Honduras, in collaboration with Food For The Poor (FFTP) and local partner CEPUDO. Here, we’re building a large greenhouse at the Centro de Vida Infantil, a school and children’s home. This greenhouse will allow for the year-round production of vegetables to support the children’s diets. So far, an agricultural engineer has visited the site to conduct extensive trainings around greenhouse construction, management, seed sprouting, and transplanting into the garden. Following trainings, the school children, teachers, and staff prepped the land and built the mega tunnel greenhouse structure in preparation for vegetable production.

Today, they have just finished preparing soil beds, and will shortly begin seed germination to allow for vegetable growing. 

The students are thrilled to be a part of the project, rather than just recipients of it. They have been critical in every step of the process, and they can’t wait to get their hands dirty with seed germination, seedling transplanting, and growing and harvesting their own vegetables!

Please enjoy these photos of the proejct in action, and stay tuned: I’m sure the next time we update you the students will have large eggplants and tomatoes in their hands!

Students and staff working hard!
Students and staff working hard!
Students prepping the soil
Students prepping the soil
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Students prepping a bed for a fall garden
Students prepping a bed for a fall garden

At SPI, we know that a school garden is more than just a small plot where plants grow. A school garden is about food justice, food literacy, and about introducing young people to the life cycle of food. It can signify a place of community, a source of nutrition, and a space of laughter and play and discovery for the young minds that are tending it. 

It’s about nutrition, yes, but it’s also about so much more than that. 

When COVID hit, we at SPI, like many of us, thought long and hard about what else we could do to support our neighbors and communities in need. In response to the economic and food uncertainty experienced by millions in our own backyard as a result of the pandemic, we set our sights on expanding our services here at home, in the US. 

This year, we formed a partnership with the US-based nonprofit, Big Green. Big Green is a national nonprofit that believes growing food changes lives, and works with organizations to increase food access throughout the country. Together, with your help, we are supporting vegetable gardens in 650+ schools across the country. 

Carrots are growing in Detroit, flowers and cucumbers have been planted in Indianapolis, and beets, beans and everything in between is growing in Memphis, Los Angeles and Chicago!

We know that healthy brains start with healthy food, and we are proud to support access to nutrition-dense food across the US for our youth. 

Thank you for your continued support, and helping us to grow many school gardens across the world. In addition to our school gardens this year here in the US, your support also helps keep school gardens thriving in Uganda, Haiti, Guatemala, and other countries around the world.  

 

With gratitude,

Georgia and the SPI team

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Field preparation of the nursery
Field preparation of the nursery

Hi there folks, 

We are excited to share the latest successes from Saint-Juste François and students like him at Feed the Children Haiti. Without supporters like YOU, the school garden projects would not be possible.  SPI, Feed the Children Haiti, and students like Saint-Juste François, thank YOU! 

Throughout the year, the school children worked in the garden, learning more and more about how to grow vegetables, care for them, and the best techniques and methods for cultivating a garden. Although there was trouble with sprouting the seeds at first, the teachers and children worked together to cultivate the garden soil. With that minor adjustment, the garden began to blossom and grow plenty of fresh vegetables.

The main goals of the school gardens were to teach children about the importance of agriculture and provide them with the skills to grow vegetables, both in the school garden and at home. In this way, the students’ knowledge supports the community’s nutritional needs. The participating schools, Coatalem de Dufresney, Ecole Mixte Freres Petits, and the St-Rock community, used the vegetables from the school gardens in their school meals, providing a better nutritional balance for growing children-- something incredibly important in these low-income areas.

One student, Saint-Juste François, provided a testimonial, saying that, “It has been one of my best experiences… Considering the economic situation of our country it was a great help for us.” He continues, “The inhabitants of the area are happy to know the crops that can be grown in the area. Some have already known about the garden in schools. They participate in weeding and

Transplanting workshops. They understood the importance of agriculture for the economy. There are many who ask for information regarding the creation of a garden.”

By supporting the School Garden Project, YOU are providing hands-on experience for students to learn about growing vegetables and agriculture. They can then use this to assist in their communities. Already, many of them have taken what they learned and taught their friends and family about growing their own vegetables. With these efforts, the nutrition of the local community has improved.  The goal is for local community members to continue growing vegetables for years to come. An enriching experience like this can have a monumental impact on people, and it’s SPI’s hope that these seeds and the school garden project as a whole will continue to help the community, and provide a learning experience for all involved.

From our partners at Feed the Children, thank YOU for your support!

— Feed the children & the SPI Team

Chinese cabbage
Chinese cabbage
Cabbage plots after transplant
Cabbage plots after transplant
Overview of nursery
Overview of nursery
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Women's group with seeds
Women's group with seeds

Hi Folks, 

This update comes from our partnership with US-based college, Virginia Tech, who is running programs in Senegal to combat plastic waste and food insecurity in schools in one fell swoop. The negative environmental impact of plastic waste has reached an irreversible level in Africa.  By 2030, approximately 235.3 metric tons of polymers and plastics would be used by consumers in 33 African countries. In Senegal, where fishing and tourism are the main industrial activities, the fishing industry is  experiencing a decline due to overfishing and water pollution. Plastic products of every kind litter the villages along Senegal's coastline. 

In April 2020, Dakar Greenpeace Africa announced the implementation of Senegal’s ban on single-use plastics. This is welcome news to tackle the impact of plastic on the environment and the livelihood of the Senegalese population. There is still a need to find innovative ways to reduce, if not eliminate, the use of plastic in most African countries. In December 2020, Counterpart International, in collaboration with Virginia Tech and Seed Programs International, implanted a  simple practice: a gardening tool called the recycled-bottle Green Wall. 

The recycled-bottle Green Wall is an idea taken from The Solar Garden, an educational  organization based in Israel. The design involves attaching recycled plastic bottles to one another and then attaching them to a frame, wall, or fencing. Each bottle can be watered individually, but by drilling holes in the bottle caps, excess water, that is not absorbed by the soil in the top bottles, will drip down to the water bottles below, leading to more efficient water usage. This system can be placed anywhere, as it’s vertical aspect allows it to take up very little space and its mounting flexibility allows it to stand anywhere.

To start, the Green Wall was implemented in 10 villages at elementary schools and 2 women-owned gardens. In addition to recycling the plastic bottles by using them as planters, the practice is also used as a pedagogical tool to teach the students the use of vertical space, efficient use of water, and the health benefits of the vegetables grown. In most cases, green leafy vegetables are hard to come by, especially during the rainy season, where the focus is on growing row-crops. Aside from increased nutrition, the importance and value of direct exposure to the natural environment can enhance learning by improving student attention and behavior. 

“Thank you for introducing the new school project “Recycled Bottle Green Wall”. Our project is going very well, my friend. The students love it very much and the wall is already greening-up.”

- Mamoune, the director of the school in Thiago, Senegal

Virginia Tech will continue expanding the project, with plans to introduce several project-based Green Wall programs to local schools, and to continue observing the effects on-student learning, well-being, and nutrition at various educational levels. As always, thank you for your support of our programs worldwide and if you would like to make your own vertical garden the instructions are below! 

-The SPI Team 

 

Recycled Bottle Green Wall Instructions 

Materials

Large plastic bottles (preferably light colors like clear, green, or blue to allow  maximum sunlight), hammer, scissors, knife, metal rod for heating up to melt through plastic, nail for drilling holes in bottle cap, and rope.

How to Build

1. The plastic bottles should first be washed with soap and water to clean off any contaminants that could negatively affect plant growth. A square  should be cut into the bottle, about half the height of the bottle, using scissors. Two holes should  be drilled into the bottle cap to allow for water flow in between bottles.

2. A hole the size of the mouth of the bottle (about 1 inch) should be drilled through the bottom of the bottle. The hole  should be just wide enough for another bottle mouth to fit very snugly inside. Another identically prepared bottle should be attached through this hole and the cap should then be screwed on to secure the bottles together. One more bottle should be attached in the same fashion to make a total of 3 bottles per row. 

3. Lastly, add a small layer of rocks to the bottom and fill up the  rest of the bottle to the opening with soil. You are now ready to plant! 

How to care for the recycled bottle Green Wall

After installation of the Green Wall, there should be very little maintenance. The plants will need to be watered, as necessary based on the individual water needs,  keeping in mind that the plants in the lower containers are also getting any water not retained by the soil in containers above and will therefore need less water. 

What to grow

The main constraint with what can be planted using the Green Wall is the space inside each bottle. Plants must have smaller root structures and receive proper sunlight in the location the Green Wall will be. Ideas for plants that could be grown well include: mung bean, small onion and garlic varieties, herbs (like mint, coriander, and parsley), and  leafy green vegetables.

Cutting windows in bottles
Cutting windows in bottles
Learning about the Green Wall
Learning about the Green Wall
Setting up the Green Wall
Setting up the Green Wall
Finished construction
Finished construction
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Organization Information

Seed Programs International

Location: Asheville, NC - USA
Website:
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @seedprograms
Project Leader:
Greg Bonin
Asheville, NC United States
$8,058 raised of $22,100 goal
 
81 donations
$14,042 to go
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