Seed by Seed, Row by Row…How does your garden grow?

by Betty Trummel
Our visit to the bush, rural Zambia, gave us a glimpse of a completely
different way of life.  The School of Hope, located in Nyirenda, is
adjacent to the Village of Hope.  Both are run by All Kids Can Learn
International (AKCLI) and are shining examples of sustainability in
action.  Let me elaborate with one key element.

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My lessons for the past three days have focused on the incredible garden
near the school.  Elijah, the master gardener, has developed these
fields.  With the vegetables grown here, he helps feed the families in
the village, students and teachers at the school, and his own family.  In
addition, crops are sold to generate income for Elijah and his family.
Although it’s winter here, the location just south of the equator means
that temperatures are mild (70’s during the day right now, 50’s at
night), but if you asked any Zambian, they’d say it’s cold.  It is very
dry here – no chance of rain, which means Elijah and his helpers spend a
lot of time watering.  A good water supply is not as much of an issue as
it could be in other areas, since deep wells have been drilled on these
sites.  Still, water conservation practices are routine.

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What a JOY it’s been to work with students and teachers in grades 1-4 as
I read them books in their classrooms, then took mini field trips to the
garden.  Our goal:  to learn more about what parts we eat of various
plants.  That could mean the leaves (and sometimes stems) of cabbage,
rape (a type of cabbage widely grown in Zambia), basil, or spinach.  Root
vegetables include beets, carrots, radish, and onions.  Fruit bearing
veggies include eggplant, impwa (a smaller, orange version of an eggplant
with the same waxy coating and fleshy interior), tomatoes, and more!  In
some cases seeds are consumed like with maize (corn) and peas.

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Following our hike back to school, children drew and wrote about what
they had learned.  As a gardener myself, these lessons have an important
connection to my life, and to the life of the Village and School of Hope.
Thanks for opening the School of Hope, the village, and your hearts to
the A to Z Literacy Movement team.  Thanks to Elijah for welcoming me
into his garden with over 150 children in tow on six field trips.  I will
not soon forget this wonderful opportunity to teach, and to grow my own
knowledge.

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