As part of efforts to promote ecovillage and sustainable communities in Ghana, GEN Ghana seeks to transform traditional schools into Ecologically Sustainable Schools by introducing eco-strategies in schools including organic gardening, renewable energy, eco-citizenship, leadership skills, sustainable water supply, waste recycling, sanitation and economically viable income generating projects that will provide practical hands-on skills to pupils and students in basic and senior high schools, enhancing environmental education and improving the eco-system and learning environment of pupils and students.
Moringa School Gardens Project
One such initiative that has been implemented across the country in 2016-2017 is the Moringa Organic School Garden Project in partnership with the Ecovillage Association of Denmark, (LOES) with support from the Danish Civil Society Fund, 7 schools in 7 regions of Ghana has established organic moringa gardens. Pupils in the 7 schools used a well designed manual to learn about organic gardening and permaculture, agro-forestry, solar drying of moringa leaves, moringa processing and the use of moringa powder and seeds to prepare soaps, creams, herbal juices and also improving nutrition of children in the schools feeding program.
A unique approach was used to enhance effective transfer of knowledge and skills and ensure sustainable project implementation that will result in higher impact.
A mapping of Eco-schools in the 7 regions was conducted with focus on at least 3-4 schools per region. Based on the mapping priority schools were selected to be part of the project.
An inception training workshop was held at the Ghana Permaculture Institute in Techiman to train GEN Ghana Youth Volunteers, Project Coordinators, Two teachers from each school as well as 2 children from each school to clearly understand how to develop organic gardens using moringa agroforestry, how to design and construct solar dryers, as well as how to process moringa leaves and seeds into powder, tea leaves, moringa bread, moringa drink among others. The participants also learnt about leadership skills and how to also use a manual designed under the program to enhance environmental education in the schools.
The Young Eco-Volunteers (NEXT GEN) members of GEN Ghana volunteers their time and efforts to coordinate the projects in the 7 regions to visit the schools each week and work with the teachers and students to set up the gardens, and work together with a community spirit as well as use the training manual to guide environmental education activities in the schools.
The Schools selected includes, Apromase Junior high School in Ashanti Region, Bongo Basic school to mention but a few.
The program has been successfully implemented and GEN Ghana is now working with its network to expand to other schools as well as integrate other eco-strategies into the schools. GEN Ghana seeks further partnerships, funding and opportunities to promote Eco-schools as one of the flagship projects its implementing in the 2016-2020 strategic plan.
Currently about 20 additional schools in the 10 regions have been identified for scale up whiles the existing 7 schools seeks to add new eco-strategies in their projects. Please visit our facebook pages for further pictures and information about the project.
Benefits of Moringa
The Moringa Oleifera tree is valued for its high nutritional value, sustainable agricultural uses, and its use in making innovative products, such as soaps, ointments etc. Moringa leaves can be used fresh or dried/crushed into a powder. The powder and fresh leaves are highly nutritious, containing large doses of many vitamins and nutrients, including Iron, Potassium, Vitamin A and Calcium. Moringa can be added to soups, stews, beans, porridge, etc. Just one teaspoon, per meal, per child, of Moringa powder in school lunches is enough to drastically improve the nutrition levels of students, especially the cognitive and physical development of the youngest children. Many peer-reviewed scientific studies exist on Moringa, and it is widely cited as the most nutritious vegetable ever found. Moringa is being sold across the world as a health supplement, but integrating Moringa into school lunches in Ghana is a unique concept.
In addition to the nutritional benefits of Moringa, the Moringa School Gardens will demonstrate to students sustainable agricultural practices which do not rely on synthetic chemicals. Moringa leaves can be used as a nitrogen-rich fertilizer for other crops, as animal feedstock, and as a plant-growth enhancer for other crops. If inspired students and teachers wish to expand their school garden to growing other vegetables or tree crops, the Moringa can be used to support the other crops through the above-mentioned practices, and can also provide income (from selling Moringa powder, seeds, soap etc.) to fund the inputs for additions to the school garden.
The Moringa School Garden pilot project is scheduled to begin from July, 2016 to June, 2017.