Our First Community Garden
On August 15th, with the support of Lady Askari, we successfully installed our first community garden! Nancy’s Gardens was meant to be a project to establish kitchen gardens at schools to teach children gardening skills and grow food to supplement school feeding programs. With the onset of COVID-19, school closures nationwide, and reduced access to food due to job loss, it made sense to revamp the program to serve the current needs of the community.
Through a partnership with the Gatina Youth Empowerment Group in Kawangware, Nairobi, we engaged close to 100 children in our community garden project. During the process, we had conversations with the children about foods they liked to eat and wanted to learn to grow. They enthusiastically suggested types of fruit, vegetables, and herbs they wanted to plant.
The children were divided into five gardening teams according to age. Each planting team got a different crop to care for. Team Spinach were the 5- 7 years olds, Team Kale, the 8- 10 years olds, Team Onions the 11-12 year olds, Team Tomatoes 12-14 years and Team Bean were the 15-16 year olds. Together, we also planted passion fruit and watermelon seeds that we harvested directly from the fruit.
August 15 was our official planting day and representatives from both Lady Askari and NECF worked with the children of Gatina Youth Empowerment Group, giving them tips on maintaining a thriving garden, explaining written guides we had prepared. One of the practical lessons we taught was that they can save seeds from fruit and vegetables and easily sow them. We shared watermelon and passion fruit at the event, saving some of the seeds, which we planted together.
Due to COVID 19, we will have minimal physical contact with the project and instead, work through the leadership of the Gatina Youth Empowerment Group to monitor the program through weekly virtual meetings and photos. We provided journals where the kids record their observations as their gardens take shape.
The majority of the crops will mature and will be ready for harvest in between 8 to 12 weeks at which point NECF, Lady Askari, and Gatina Youth Empowerment Group will have a harvest day and the produce from the garden will be shared between the children.