Today started off with two wonderful presentations by Kwesi Yaro and Philip Kimani. The first presentation started with introducing to us what gardening looked like within Ghana's educational system. We were informed that after a drought in the 1970’s, the government introduced a new plan called Operation Feed Yourself. This new law mandated that high schools and elementary schools have gardens for teaching and for cultivating as a way of making educational institutions agriculturally sustainable. For the project, most schools were given about 4 acres of garden. Of these four acres, most was designated for growing crops, however a small section of the garden was left untouched and dedicated to teaching and experiments where the students could learn. For example, one grade 7 project was to grow a vegetable in the garden from seed to harvest -- they were graded afterwards on the outcome of their crops.
While learning about the gardens in Ghana we also gained some valuable skills Formteaching out own students in gardens. For example, in his presentation we learned that it is best to show a demonstration to only 2 students at a time while others are working and to get others to come see the demonstration afterwards, instead of just one large group. The main thing about garden teaching is the space we have and we have to make sure we are always using it.
For the second part of the presentation we started learning about gardens in Kenya. This was the presentation we found the most inspiring. We learned that the presenter had started his own school in the desert like city ofVoi, Kenya. The school started with 20 students and has since grown to over 200 students. He talked to us about how the first issue for the school was that they did not have an water source. Transporting water in my the truckload quickly proved to be expensive and unsustainable. However, he explained that once they started getting donations from Canada they were able to afford to create their own water source. The next project was a garden, in fact, this idea had come from the imagination of the students themselves. The students began growing and harvesting kale and progressed to other crops such a step oranges. Throughout this journey the students and teachers learned many things. For example, that watering mid-day was ineffective and the water would just evaporate. They also found that rabbits poo was great as manure for the garden and that their pee was an excellent pesticide. They also planted Moringa, which had medicinal properties and they saw an increase in health among the children once they started feeding it to the students.
After these wonderful presentations we had some time to read some resources on how to use a garden in our teaching. There were some wonderful resources identified while reading. For example, The Garden Classroom by Cathy James. We discussed these resources among the group and next thing we knew it was lunch! Sadly, today there was no time in the garden due to the rain!
- Laurence and Meg