Issue - January 2007

January 2007

Once again, a New Year is starting with plenty of hopes and ideas for 2007 making it even better than the last one.

We have a special commitment with organizations and people that look out for the welfare of other more...

January 2007

First harvest

by Arnold Brouwer

We advanced another month in the school garden project, the first crops have been harvested and we are a lot of experiences wiser. It is interesting to see how everybody slowly grows into this project. The kids are getting more enthusiastic every week, the schools and their professors are getting more used to us being around and we are slowly growing into our role as educators.

It is amazing how big the educational potential of a school garden really is. The didactic strength lays in the fact that managing a school garden automatically combines theoretical and practical aspects. Apart of the agricultural skills we are teaching and the related subjects like biology and geography, the children receive language classes in the specific field of agriculture with new vocabulary like nursery and thinning crops. As well mathematics play a role in calculating sizes of garden beds and walkways, distances between plants up to the more complicated association of different crops.

In these associations different crops are being alternated in order to grow crops together who are beneficiary one to another. For example planting tomatoes together with basil increases the pest and disease resistance of the tomato plants.

The change of atmosphere from their classes in the small dark class rooms to a space outside is another one of its strengths. The school garden is one big experimenting area where we can do our experiments, grow our crops under conditions which the children try to control (putting fertilizer, weeding, preparing garden beds, irrigation). The fact that the school garden does not have four walls a door and a teacher in front of the children makes it more difficult to control them but we think it is a very valuable experience to be able to teach the children in a different atmosphere.

Besides relations to subjects like biology, geography and mathematics we try to trigger their creativity in letting them design their own garden. We stimulate their sense of responsibility in terms of for example irrigation and once we can harvest some more crops we are planning classes on the nutritious values of the crops and their use in the kitchen.

Apart from this we want to design a small herb garden with both aromatic as medicinal herbs. Up to 50 square meters in the school can be sufficient to work in a school garden program with 2 up to 3 classes.

The main objective of the garden is most of all the practical and demonstrative value, where the children can practice some gardening skills and see how the different crops grow. A school garden with the objective to produce would have to be a lot bigger. The interesting side of a small school garden is showing the children that in a small space near their house they could easily grow an interesting variety of crops for consumption. The next article will be about this interesting field of urban agriculture, mainly taking place in small unused spaces in and around the houses in urban and sub urban areas.

My life in Taricaya
Despite having been in Cochabamba for over two weeks now I still find myself completely unaccustomed to the wonderfully peaceful nights sleep (without rude interruption by rat, opossum or cockroach), delicious food and presence of street lights and cars as opposed to fire flies and peccaries!?
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