We have had great success with growing food and different plants thanks to an urban garden on one of the centre’s balcony. Since the garden was started in August 2015 we have grown kale, spinach, amaranth, tomatoes, green papers, eggplant, pumpkins, carrots, potatoes, radish, lettuce, coriander, strawberries, passion fruit and watermelon, with varying degrees of success. Maize, beans, avocado, pawpaw and a mango were germinated and grown for a short time for learning purposes.
Green peppers, eggplant, pumpkins and watermelon did not do well and after the second try growing them we gave up. Carrots, potatoes, tomatoes radish, lettuce and potatoes did moderately well while kale, spinach, amaranth, coriander, strawberries and passion fruit were a resounding success. Of special note is the passion fruit which grew and kept producing for a year and only died early this year when it was re-potted.
The garden has been a wonderful outdoor learning space where the children learn valuable urban gardening skills that integrate with subjects such as math, science, social studies. In addition, taking care of plants has been useful in instilling a sense of personal responsibility. This is important because their living conditions at home do not allow them to interact with nature. Many people in Kariobangi do not appreciate that they can grow a lot of food in the small space they have. The school garden has been a useful tool in changing this notion and a small number of parents have been challenged to the point of growing their own kitchen gardens.
We have been using the vegetables harvested to supplement our lunch program; Amaranth, coriander, onions and kale have been especially useful in this regard.
Lastly we would like to say a huge thank you to Giulia who was instrumental in starting our garden. She raised €250 to help us expand the garden last year.