Garden education program boosts nutrition & morale

Beyond the Orphanage

Greg Donoghue, Beyond The Orphanage (BTO) Board Member, shares his recent experiences of our new edible garden in Ethiopia.

The first thing you notice about the children in the BTO program in Ethiopia is their thirst for knowledge – it’s unlike anything I’ve seen anywhere. They take every opportunity they get to read and speak English, to learn about the world, and to prepare themselves for employment when they graduate from our program.

Edible Garden | Beyond The Orphanage

In Ethiopia though, fresh, quality vegetables are not commonly available and even when they are, they are often too expensive, so children miss out on important nutrients. So it was a simple decision, as part of our education program, to start a Vegie Patch project in the front yard of the Drop In Centre.

Staff and children worked hard to dig up rocks, tree roots and asphalt to make a large garden bed.  They made a rock wall around it, and cut back trees to let in more light.  They fertilised and watered the soil.  Then a 44 gallon drum was donated, and this was quickly converted into a compost bin (mainly by using an axe!).

A local nursery kindly provided seedlings of the best vegetables – tomatoes, beans, spinach and others – and a local gardener planted them out.   The children also collected some local seeds and watched them grow in hand-made containers (recycled drink bottles) then transplanted these into the garden.

The results are amazing – showing that any soil, with the right care, will grow good quality food. When the vegetables are ready the children will help out in harvesting and preparing the food for others. Our aim is to connect what happens in the garden with what happens in the kitchen, and link both to what happens in their classroom.

But it’s not just the kids who benefit.  Ethiopia’s most recent drought now threatens over 10 million people with famine in 2016, so teaching the next generation of leaders the essentials of survival – how to grow their own food – may one day help the entire nation grow enough food to avoid future famines.

Who knows what impact education will have.

Lettuce in the Edible Garden | Beyond The Orphanage

January 20, 2016

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