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
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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Junel, Director of the Pere Coatalem de Dufresney
Junel, Director of the Pere Coatalem de Dufresney

Hi Folks, 

 

This update comes from our partners Feed the Children, who are working with private and public schools in Haiti and Guatemala to implement school gardens. These gardens will be cultivated areas around the school premises and will be cared for by students, parents, and school personnel. School gardens in Haiti are particularly important for supplementing healthy student meals that are rich in vitamins and nutrients. Healthy meals enable students to grow, develop, and focus on their learning during the school day. This program will focus on four schools in Guatemala and three in Haiti.

However, the project has been widely affected by COVID-19 with schools shutting down in both countries. So while the students have been absent, Feed the Children has been moving forward and preparing different aspects of the project so everything will be set up by the time the students return. 

For example, in Haiti the primary source of water for the school gardens will be the potable water systems on site at each school. During the rainy season, very little irrigation is typically necessary. However, due to significant changes in weather patterns of late, dry periods during the rainy season make it necessary to have irrigation year-round. Since water is scarce for many of the schools, having the capacity to capture and store rainwater is important for day to day school activities. To assure water access, Feed the Children will implement a conduit and capture system to collect rainwater off the school roof during the rainy season to be stored throughout the dry months.

Junel, Director of the Père Coatalem de Dufresney school in Haiti had this to say about the upcoming projects and their impact on the community:

I would like to thank Feed the Children and Seed Programs International for all the support provided in our community, particularly the school support. I want to especially highlight the school garden project, which has become more important than the initial objectives, namely, to diversify and strengthen the food that is given to children in the canteen.

The whole community benefits from this project, in the sense that people discover other economic opportunities because of what we produce in the school gardens. The vegetables that the schools grow were not typical for the community. Initially, they did not think that the area could produce these vegetables or that there was a market for these vegetables. So, I'm talking about real economic opportunities that are opening to us in the community because its products are indeed in great demand.

It is important to emphasize that the school garden project goes beyond technical learning for the  students. Children who receive the training and knowledge become student advocates for garden  activities and are able to teach other students as well as their family members to encourage additional  school, community, and household gardens. As part of project implementation, community leaders and volunteers were also trained to monitor the garden and provide on-going support.

We look forward to updating you as this school garden project progresses. Projects like this are possible in part to donors like you, so from Feed the Children and Seed Programs International thank you for your support. 

-the SPI Team.

Preparing the garden
Preparing the garden
Planting seeds
Planting seeds
Creating rows
Creating rows
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Planting boxes are ready to go
Planting boxes are ready to go

Hi Folks, 

This update comes from our Peace Corps partner in Morocco, who you may remember from a previous report in June of 2019. Peace Corps Morocco focuses on empowering youth and local communities in remote, mostly rural areas. Gardens are created on the grounds of youth centers and boarding schools where Peace Corps volunteers use seeds as an opportunity to demonstrate lessons about the environment and agriculture. This keeps people linked to their land by nurturing an understanding of botanical life. 

Students lead the planning and production: cultivating soil, constructing garden beds, and planting seeds. During this process, the young gardeners learn about agricultural practices and environmental issues. Between their work in the gardens and accompanying lessons, they leave prepared to start their own local garden project, encouraging the community to start growing food of their own. 

Since the outbreak of COVID-19, the safety of students and teachers has become paramount. Planting and regular classes have been put on hold at the youth centers and boarding schools. However, one garden at the Dar Chabaab was completed prior to the pandemic. One Peace Corps volunteer writes:

“I just want to follow up with a few notes about the Community Garden and our Environment Program, which I'm proud to say we were able to launch before life changed. Although everything came to an abrupt halt for all of us, I believe we will still be able to share with the kids some of the vegetables they planted during the season of Ramadan.”

- Mary-Elizabeth, Peace Corp Morocco Volunteer

The Community Garden and Environment Program was launched through collaborative efforts from Peace Corps Morocco and professionals at the Dar Chabaab to increase availability of local community gardens and provide education on environmental awareness and stewardship. Seeds play an integral role as an educational tool. Mary-Elizabeth continues:

“Our first class took place on Sunday, March 1st at the Dar Chabaab with planting. The planting boxes were in place and filled with compost donated by a local family. The students were assigned planting partners if they didn't already have a buddy. Then they were assigned their vegetable, given the container with the pre-soaked seeds and instructed per the manual on how to plant their vegetable in their box. Each student was also given a notebook to document through drawings and notes the development of their plant/s on a weekly basis. They were told that there would be a contest for best vegetables grown and instructed to water their plant every day. It was a wonderful little get-together for everyone”

More projects were planned to highlight local talent, like a field trip to a farm and a lecture series, including: an artist in Marrakech who uses recyclables in his art practice; an engineer working on a big dam project in the area; an engineering PhD student whose agricultural project cuts down on water use by strategically delivering water to growing crops; and a visit to the local landfill to learn where household waste is managed. 

The good news is that all of this (and more!) can still happen in the future. Dar Chabaab has the space and desire to plant a larger, community garden to complement the student planter boxes. 

We are pleased to continue our work with Peace Corps Morocco through this time of in-door confinement. They have succeeded in joining efforts with the local community leaders to provide an environmental learning project to youth center students. They have planted the seeds of change, which we believe will continue to grow after normal life resumes. 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

Seedlings beginning to sprout
Seedlings beginning to sprout
Starting seedlings for the garden
Starting seedlings for the garden
Growing progress!
Growing progress!
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Students creating a tiered garden.
Students creating a tiered garden.

Hi folks,

I truly hope this reaches you safe and well. With so many changes to our daily lives, it can be easy to feel overwhelmed just by paying attention to what’s happening closest to us. During these times, it can help to remember that we’re part of a larger, collective effort to support and bring out the best in each other. Today, we’re sharing a project story from Uganda — a project that your support has made possible. We hope it will encourage and inspire you, as it did us.

This past September, the MDRT Foundation hosted a seed packing event at their annual meeting in Australia. Their members filled over 20,000 seed packets with SPI seeds and shared those packets with new partner organizations who carried the seed throughout the world. Quaker Service Australia is one of those new partners.

About Quaker Service Australia

Quaker Service Australia (QSA) is an aid organization of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers). They work in countries throughout the world, including: Cambodia, India, Indigenous Australia, Malaysia, Uganda, Zimbabwe, and refugee and asylum seeking groups in Australia. QSA projects focus on health, education, and human rights with a primary focus on food security. The training and education offered through QSA partner projects help ensure that people can grow food now and for generations to come.

Like many organizations, QSA has had to adapt to workplace changes because of COVID-19:

“At QSA we are all working from home as much as possible and staying in touch remotely – we are some of the lucky ones I think, that it is possible with our work. We are keeping up with communications and support to our partners as they are working to devise ways to continue support or work with their communities through their own countries’ lockdowns as well as helping to disseminate health and safety info in the course of their work. While we have some alternative plans with partners in response to COVID-19 these have not quite been able to go ahead as of yet. In most of our project locations it is currently unsafe for them to leave the house not just because of COVID-19, but also because of authorities using means of coercion to enforce the lockdowns.”

Building a Foundation: QSA & St. Jude Family Projects

This past February and March, QSA distributed about 1,500 packets of SPI seed with their partner St. Jude Family Projects in Uganda. St. Jude offers education for the whole community, working with farmers, students, and families. Prior to Uganda’s mandated COVID distancing measures, St. Jude offered training in agroforestry, vegetable growing, preparation, value addition and marketing, seasonal crop spacing, and manure application. Droughts and floods over the past year had wiped out several prior crops, so this recent seed distribution was especially important.

Seed was also shared with three schools that maintain gardens as a classroom for students and teachers. These gardens are important training grounds (no pun intended) that also provide nutritious vegetables for school lunches. St. Jude carefully cultivates these programs, building their curriculum from the ground up:

“We select the most disadvantaged schools from many applications, do a needs assessment, pick up the numbers that we can afford each year to work with, and start working towards a collective vision with those involved.

Meetings begin with school management committees, teachers, parents, and the students themselves to introduce the program. We visit these schools every few weeks to train and monitor their developments and provide advice with proper guidance. For sustainability reasons, it is important to educate the children on nutrition and harvesting. It is amazing to see how the children take these lessons to their respective homes as ‘mini-ambassadors.’ This creates a culture of ownership, and ensures these great lessons of caring for the earth live on. Agriculture is a fruitful venture, not a living to shy away from.”

What a fantastic model for ensuring that everyone involved has the opportunity to shape the program! Ai Leen at QSA adds, “...St Jude Family Projects’ excellent and dedicated community-based trainers [planted] a trial run of SPI seeds during my visit, so they could test and observe germination prior to distributing to farmers, which also allowed them to know how to advise them.” This is clearly an experienced team who cares about their students, community, and craft.

This report includes photos from St. Jude of the most recently completed primary school project (students planting) and the currently ongoing project (tiered garden). Ai Leen and St. Jude are waiting to see what this season will bring. Nothing is certain, but we believe that the quality of care and resources that QSA and St. Jude are providing has established a critical foundation of support for local farmers and students.

Your support of this project supports local collaborations like Quaker Service Australia and St. Jude Family Projects. The work they’re doing with local schools is growing local leaders who will support their communities for generations to come. Thank you!

— The SPI Team

Students planting seedlings.
Students planting seedlings.
Young students in the garden.
Young students in the garden.
QSA & St. Jude testing seeds before distribution.
QSA & St. Jude testing seeds before distribution.
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Cucumber harvest in Siguatepeque, Germania.
Cucumber harvest in Siguatepeque, Germania.

Hi folks,

Today’s update comes from CEPUDO (Capacitación, Educación, Producción, Unificación, Desarrollo y Organización) and Food for the Poor in Honduras. CEPUDO serves some of the poorest communities in Honduras with programs that touch everyone from infants to elders. Their program areas include: agriculture, educational centers and schools, community development, water projects, health, training and recreation centers, and more. Specific programs like CEPUDITO and CEPUDO Teens and focus on developing a sense of social responsibility in youth and school age children so they can become change agents in their homes, schools, and communities.

CEPUDO’s agricultural programs are supported by their local staff agronomist and Food for the Poor. Food for the Poor networks CEPUDO with local seed vendors in addition to providing access to SPI seeds. Combining local seed sources with SPI seed offers a nutritionally diverse program that can be adapted to the different regional climates of Honduras.

This work could not be done without the expertise of local leaders who are familiar with the region, and the projects and partners that are working within those regions. CEPUDO determined that SPI seeds were best adapted for the western part of the country where they host projects that provide nutrition and income for families and communities. Because local leaders are familiar with the communities that live in these regions, they knew how best to share the seeds. Describing a recent distribution, they write:

“The seeds were selected and distributed according to the weather conditions of each zone of the country where the beneficiaries are located. For example, in...the Juan Orlando Hernandez and El Rondon communities, we distributed chayote (squash), tomato, pepper, onion, cucumber and watermelon seeds because the zone where these communities are located is tropical. At the coffee project, located in different communities of the Marcala municipality, we distributed and planted chayote, carrot, cabbage, tomato and pepper seeds because this zone has cooler and wet weather.

The beneficiaries plant the seeds they receive gradually, focusing on one product at a time. Pepper, tomato and onion seeds are first planted in trays then transplanted into the ground, but cucumber and chayote seeds are planted directly in the ground in the garden and/or community project.

Some of the plants are now flowering and in the vegetable development stage, such as the tomatoes and peppers. They already have vegetables, but may not be ready to harvest.

However, due to various weather zones the chayote (Calabaza-Ayote) vegetables develop faster than the rest. Additionally, Hondurans traditionally eat green chayotes that haven’t reached their maturity stage in soups, stews and porridge for babies.”

School Gardens in Siguatepeque and La Campa
School gardens in Siguatepeque, Comayagua and La Campa, Lempira provide a space for students and the broader community to learn about new varieties and techniques while growing nutritious vegetables that address hunger and health. These school gardens are also classrooms for entrepreneurial initiatives that can provide livelihoods for a new generation of farmers.

The photos attached to this report shows students and community members preparing the soil, planting seeds, setting up irrigation, and tending the maturing plants. All of these activities are part of a structured program coordinated by CEPUDO, their agronomists, and Food for the Poor.

CEPUDO writes, “We feel very thankful because the seeds you provide us serve to improve the life conditions of our participants. The seeds were well received and [supplied] the people in need. From our organization and beneficiaries we feel really grateful. Thank you for all the support and help you give us, we pray that God continues blessing you in incredible ways.”

Food for the Poor closes the report with gratitude, and sums up the essence of this project: “Thank you for your efforts with this invaluable donation of seeds. More than that, it is an opportunity to learn to work and eat from the natural resources available. Additionally, it offers a chance to learn a trade and become entrepreneurial within the agricultural industry — helping one family at a time generate income and come out of poverty.”

For CEPUDO, Food for the Poor, and the team here at SPI, thank you. Your support makes collaborations like this possible and helps to ensure that a new generation has access to nutrition, knowledge, and livelihoods.

— The SPI Team

Preparing the soil in La Campa, Campira.
Preparing the soil in La Campa, Campira.
Irrigating the garden.
Irrigating the garden.
Maintaining the plants.
Maintaining the plants.
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Organization Information

Seed Programs International

Location: Asheville, NC - USA
Website:
Project Leader:
Greg Bonin
Asheville, NC United States
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