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 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
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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Garden Selfie!
Garden Selfie!

Hi folks,

If you’re familiar with our programs, you might know that many of our partner communities are located in outlying or isolated regions. Today’s report from the Rotary Club of Manila 101 in the Philippines is different. Working with schools throughout the Philippines, this Rotary focuses on gardens that can thrive in an urban environment.

“Urban Edible Gardening at the FMGES hopes to have pupils, as well as their parents and the community realize and be inspired with the benefits, feasibility, and potential of growing food for one’s own table.” — Urban Edible Gardening purpose statement

Their Agripreneruship and Environment flagship program, Urban Edible Gardening, introduces students to urban gardening concepts. This isn’t only a technical introduction — students are encouraged to explore their connection with the land and gain an understanding of how gardens and gardening can promote personal wellness. Learning about the connection between the land, where food comes from, and wellness is important in an urban setting where this connection may not be obvious.

Urban Edible Gardening engages the entire family in holistic wellness. At the Fernando Ma. Guerrero Elementary School, the program starts with a training of the trainers. Rotary Club of Manila 101 partners with a local expert to offer a session on “Healthy Soils, Healthy Crops, Healthy Lives.” The children’s parents then prepare the garden plot, while children are led through mindfulness exercises connected to planting the seeds. One such exercise, led by Past President Majella, aims to “create joy, peacefulness, and happiness within.”

The school’s children then sow their seeds: lettuce, mustard, okra, eggplant, and marigold that will provide some of the school’s supply of organic vegetables. Training continues throughout the season, including sessions about the use of fertilizer, growing seeds into healthy seedlings, and general nutrition and wellness. For instance, students were treated to a “Health is Weatlh” talk by the Rotary President that includes a section about dance as exercise. How fun!

“Thanks to Seed Programs International for making this possible for our nation through their seed donation grant program!”

It’s worth noting that a program like this requires a tremendous amount of collaboration. A lot of resources are needed to succeed at this scale, and Rotary Club of Manila 101 is doing a fantastic job of enrolling the next generation of healthy farmers. Through your support, and the support of other programs like Rotarians Against Hunger, these students are gaining access to the resources they need for future livelihoods and wellness.

From us, Rotary Club of Manila 101, and a generation of students — thank you!

— The SPI Team

Working with seedlings.
Working with seedlings.
Parents preparing the garden plot.
Parents preparing the garden plot.
Consulting about seedlings.
Consulting about seedlings.
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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!
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Organization Information

Seed Programs International

Location: Asheville, NC - USA
Website:
Project Leader:
Greg Bonin
Asheville, NC United States
$4,195 raised of $22,100 goal
 
71 donations
$17,905 to go
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