I was looking on the internet yesterday for gifts. I remembered a catalogue I got last year called Send a Cow.
For people who want to donate an animal to struggling communities to make them self sufficient.
You can send a cow (or a goat, sheep, or fruit trees etc). For example the cow produces milk for the farmers, the manure becomes fertiliser to grow vegetables. If the Cow has calves these can be sold, or used as meat. The cow is symbolic of the community becoming self sufficent. Where life is hard these small acts can reap big benefits. Another initiative they have been doing is about gardening training.
The website had a competition for schools, and children to build the best Bag garden, and for those with more room the Keyhole garden.
The bag garden is a novel way of growing vegetables in a small space in an inhospitable environment. The examples were from Lesotho which is a rugged mountainous country with extremes of heat, thunderstorms, rain, and hail.
The Bag Garden is simply a hessian sack with a column of rocks in the middle for watering, compost and cow manure, and sticks to hold the sides, and as a way of growing supports. They are very compact.
The Key hole garden is so called because viewed from above the central space is shaped like a keyhole. It is a raised bed effect, with easy access for children, and poorly adults. Sub Saharan Africa is at the sharp end of the Hiv/Aids pandemic, so the garden is easily accessible from the keyhole. It has a basket in the centre for watering, and vegetable peelings for compost. Ash from fires gives Potassium, manure gives nitrates, Rusty tin cans give the soil iron etc.
Send a cow is teaching people how they can grow their own vegetables all year around. The children now eat regular meals, and are healthier, so able to attend schools.
The best ideas seem to be the simplest, well thought out, but brilliant none the less.
Once I move to the house I will try out the Bag Garden (its ten pounds from send a cow). The project here in the UK teaches children about growing vegetables, geography, and awareness of their peers in Africa who have very different lives. The video shows an 8 year old boy tending the keygarden with his sister!
What is amazing is they love vegetables, Cabbages, Spinach, onions, and his favourite Beetroot! Children here in the UK are notorious for not eating their vegetables. These projects in Lesotho show the difference the Keyhole gardens make. All the materials are locally available at no cost, besides the labour involved. Its a matter of getting seeds!
I found the video on you tube hurray, so it can be embedded in this blog post. Its nine minutes long but is very illustrative of my post!
Its another example of the difference that the earth can make in healing individuals, communities, and making malnutrition a thing of the past. The community can see the benefits and start to copy the gardening!