Sept 18, 2009: KGSA: Sack Gardens are GROWING!print story
January 28, 2011
Rafiki, Nina habari poa! ( I have cool news!)
Wow, with all that has happened with EFF it is hard to believe that I have had that much time to spend with Kibera Girls Soccer Academy,right? WRONG. During August, one of my most saving graces were my twice a week trips out to KGSA to continue planning the sack garden project and spend time with the teachers and students that so encourage and support me. During this time as well, the funding came through for the sack garden project (Thanks to EFF’s own Courtney, let’s give her a round of applause ::clap clap::)
So, with that, the project began. The first step, of course was to get the well digging under way. See, when we were putting together the initial budget, we found that the yearly cost of purchasing water was going to be over $700 (remember we are talking about a country that is experiencing a water shortage and about a school in a very urban environment)…take that times 5 years and you have yourself quite a costly, sustainability issue. So, why buy water when you can just dig for it? (that question had me stumped too.) So, the Friday after the funds came through (for your reference, September 4th) the digging commenced. How cool is that? SO cool.
We started doubting a bit about the water issue... so we walked through Kibera until we found it!
I visited the school throughout the next week to see the well progress … “ohhh” and “ahhhh” is appropriate here) and to plan for the sack garden training that would occur that weekend (that would be last weekend for your reference, September 12th). We contacted the Solidarities Food Security Team and I met with them throughout the week to make sure we had the correct supplies and to insure we were lined up for Saturday (getting all our sukuma seedlings in a row… haha…) As the week progressed we gained a lot more than water from the well, shine the spot light on a ridiculous amount of rocks and red soil and as a result a HUGE SPENDING CUT!. Now? Free rocks! Free water! It’s like cutting coupons! We also put up some preliminary security around the area where the gardens would be planted aka iron sheets and a storage room under the school staircase. We didn’t want any thieves thieving our produce during the evenings… finally, we laid the foundation for a seed bed, where we would be planting…you guessed it… SEEDS! The girls pitched in SO much in getting everything together- they collected rocks everyday into a great pile and supervised our dirt and materials collection… it was obvious though the focus was on Saturday- and the SACKS!
Saturday morning I was beside myself with excitement. I got to the school around 9:00am and met Abdul who was also adrenaline-filled, shoveling (with one of our new shovels) soil from the well into a usable pile. The students started piling in around 10 and around 10:30-11:00 Solidarities representatives showed up in all their glory… What follows are a series of pictures of the experience through the rest of the day…
Sack training: So, you pile a mixture of red and black soil into the sack a few inches up and then use a 1 kg canister (with the bottom removed) to pile in rocks. These rocks create the irrigation system of the sack. As you fill the rocks, you surround the canister with soil. All the way up. Then you water the hell out of the sack… literally… and then you poke holes in the burlap and plant Sukuma or Spinach all over the sack. Good thing there is irrigation to make sure the water goes ALL the way down.
Total: 30 sacks behind and in front of the school. We spent this week working on security, but that will come in a later post.
Seed garden: This is part of the sustainability plan. See, sukuma and spinach only last for 3-6 months. Then they get worn out and you need to plant more. Solidarities donated a TON of seed packets to KGSA. Here, we planted sukuma, spinach and leafy onion seeds. We are hoping to expand an actual garden at somepoint and plant tomatoes so we have all the makings for sukuma wiki (when it is cooked) besides cooking oil! Don’t worry about the garden- we got it covered and protected the next week!
Seedling garden: So, we had some extra seedlings… and decided to plant them. Disappointing fact: they mysteriously disappeared by the time I stopped by on Wednesday… apparently we need to work out security BEFORE planting. Luckily we still have all our sacks and our seed bed is thriving! (when it did exist, it looked like this:)
Overall, the day was really great. I think all the girls had great fun on planting day. We ended around 4:00p after a nice lunch and some final planting. So far, The Environmental Club leaders are doing a great job of keeping their 20 club members organized and watering the sacks twice daily. The well is giving us all of the water we need as we work to get it finished up. Who knows? Next week we may even have a pump! Boy, wouldn't that be a novel idea?
Here is one of our group pictures. Be kind to our squinting eyes- it was really bright out!
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