How Does a Seed Grow?
Report by International Intern, Jackie Delie
“Live as though you’re going to die tomorrow, but farm as though you’re going to live forever.” – Patrick Whitefield
Farming is a way of life here in Mwakoma and Mwambiti. To connect students to the farm behind their school, Elephants and Bee’s project came up with the idea to involve the children in a Farm Club. The Farm Club is a voluntary club where members learn various farm techniques, nutrition facts, and receive a practical and “hands-on” learning experience. In addition, the students can learn about a variety of methods that may deter crop-raiding elephants and about crops that are good for planting during drought seasons (particularly helpful in a climate as dry Tsavo). The goal is to build a student-organized club that gets the children thinking and caring about the seeds they plant. As an added benefit, the students can eat the vegetables and fruits planted for their school lunches.
After several months of dormant activity, the Farm Club was reintroduced with the first meeting held on 12 May, 2017. A total of 26 students, from all grade levels, were present and eager to participate in the lesson. Elephants and Bees project interns lead the first session with the theme, “How Does a Seed Grow?”
The focus of this lesson was to discuss what living things need to live and thrive, and how best to care for a seed. Then, each Farm Club member was given half of a reusable juice carton to plant their own individual bean seed. The children gathered dirt, compost material and planted their bean seed in their carton. They were left with the instructions to water, care and watch their seed grow everyday. The look of interest and fascination was in their eyes as the activity carried on.
The second half Farm Club focused on teaching a balanced and diverse way to plant, applying permaculture principles. The members were split into six groups and were responsible for planting chili, pumpkin, ground nuts and Sukuma in each of their beds. Each group planted chili on the outside of their bed as they were taught chili, with its strong smell, protects other plants from insects. Then, ground nuts were planted as a nitrogen fixer and Sukuma for nutrition. Finally, pumpkin was planted in each bed to act as a groundcover for protecting the soil from damaging rays of the sun and helping to hold moisture for longer periods of time. The members were actively engaged and getting their “hands dirty” during the reintroduction of Farm Club.
With the student’s owning their projects and creatively thinking of new project ideas for in the garden, the hope is that their new found knowledge will be applied at home and shared with other members of the community.