One day, while talking with a science teacher at the local middle and high school in Nedogo, he noticed a small fenced-in garden I had attached to the back of my house and asked me about it. Peace Corps Volunteer explained that she was interested in having a source of vegetables throughout the year, especially when many could not be found in the market area. He was interested in the idea and thought it would be great to do one at the school. We only talked about the possibility of doing a garden briefly, but by the next day he had already set up a meeting with the principal to talk about the feasibility of this idea. The principal was immediately on board and asked when we could start. Peace Corps Volunteer explained that there was a lot of preparation work to do beforehand and that realistically the garden would not be able to start until the following school year. With only a couple months left to organize the garden before all the school staff would leave for the summer, the science teacher, the school staff and the Peace Corps Volunteer talked about the budget, sustainability, and outline for the garden. Our goals of the garden are to increase knowledge about gardening activity in the community and to increase knowledge about healthy eating habits.
When the school year started back-up after the summer break, the science teacher immediately asked when we could start. We began as soon as the money came in from the West African Food Security Partnership “WAFSP”. By contacting members in the community, we were about to buy almost everything from our provincial capital. We also hired a local well-respected mason from the community to construct the fence. To create a sustainable fence, we decided to use a cement foundation and cement corner posts to make it difficult for the animals to knock it down. This new fencing was purposely placed within the already existing fencing of the school to create an additional barrier between the garden and the animals. As soon as the fencing was installed, students, teachers, and school staff members helped cultivate and water the land to get it ready to plant. The secretary at the school is a gardener; he was able to provide a lot of knowledge about how to properly prepare the land and where to plant the vegetables and trees.
Students provided the compost to help with plant growth and are continuing to help water and upkeep the garden. The science teacher and the Peace Corps Volunteer, with guidance from the principal, created a watering schedule for the students in 6th to 8th grade. Because all of those students are responsible for watering the garden, the science teachers incorporate lessons learned in the garden (such as plant growth and garden care against insects) into their curriculum. There will be sensitizations regarding the importance of nutrition. Overall, there have been a lot of enthusiasms from the school community regarding the garden. News has even spread to surrounding villages and a couple of professors, who teach nearby, came to look at the garden to get an idea of how to replicate it at their schools.