LESSONS LEARNED, SUCCESS STORIES AND WAY FORWARD
It has been instrumental to have our unifying “GEN-Ghana Eco Schools Project” run this year in 7 regions of Ghana. There has been a lot of lessons learned as well as success stories in each unique region. Having an effective “Moringa School Garden Manual” to serve as a resource has been invaluable, though more copies are needed for our advocacy and networking. This first year of the pilot project has solidified the natural coming together of working teams within the organization thereby creating opportunities to work on common goals in a cohesive manner.
The year has also supported expanding the network through the school community base including administrators, teachers, students and families who are becoming aware of new sustainable eco practices and the GEN movement. Having a common project for GEN Ghana begins to define our advocacy priorities as an organization around organic school gardens which addresses climate change and empowers children and communities with eco strategies, while supporting schools in experiential curriculum and self sufficient nutritional resources.
As we move forward, we realize the “Eco Schools” does not create an image for most Ghanaians of what we are doing so we are renaming the pilot project as “Youth P.L.A.N.T Organic Greening Schools Initiative”. P.L.A.N.T, an acronym which creates a visual image of the action at hand, stands for five key components of the school garden demonstration site being Permaculture-Leadership-Agriculture-Nutrition-Transformation which are concepts and action words easily translatable to children, communities, nations and the world.
We refer to the “first year” of the pilot project because it is still in its infancy stages and are honest and realistic that GEN Ghana is not ready to replicate what we have learned as we are still building the capacity of the Regional Representatives to understand permaculture and organic farming as well as skills in community organizing. A year is too little time to train, break ground, grow, learn, adapt and assess a school garden initiative.
This second year of our pilot project work at schools is a continuation from last year’s articulation of problem and solution programming. Most “scale up” grants would look to increase the amount of schools and breadth of the project but for GEN Ghana at this stage it would be watering down our capacity. We are focused on making the demonstration site at the school functional and progressive and this takes time in training our Regional Reps and then in turn creating buy in and greater collaboration from the school communities.
The theme of continuing to rally GEN Ghana in unity around the school gardens is broadening as we make the demonstration sites (schools) more than just Moringa as an eco strategy. We are now expanding to water catchment, integrative bio diverse planting, symbolic solar application, reused recycling bins, tippy tap hand-washing and laying the foundation for future trainings at these sites.
Please follow the link below for the Eco-Schools Moringa Garden Project Gallery.