Views from a school garden

By Jette Luna and Johnny Baltzersen, CICED,  

A school garden is the sound of fruit and vegetables, fresh air and dirt under your fingernails. It’s a healthy learning space and a great outdoor dimension to the school day.

But in Potosí, 4000 meters above sea level in the southern Bolivian highlands, there’s more at stake when the first tomatoes are harvested.

School gardens are included in Bolivia’s education law, which means that all schools in rural areas must create gardens to help ensure that children and young people get a good diet.

However, there can be a long way from law to practice. In Potosí, where CICED’s collaboration with our Bolivian partner AAE unfolds, the gardens were abandoned. It had never been clear who was doing what and by what means.

Greenhouse in school garden before project start

The belief in a future of agriculture in the area, and thus the will and finances to run the gardens, had disappeared as young people left for the big cities or sought work in the many mines. At the same time, climate change requires new crops and sustainable cultivation methods.

Project-supported school gardens will help turn the tide. It’s not just about learning how to grow (new) crops efficiently. There is also a focus on how to supply local markets and how to farm profitably in today’s conditions.

Greenhouse in school garden March 2021

Back in November-December, when spring was on its way in Bolivia, the project delivered tools and seeds to the still fallow school gardens.

Four to five months later and on the back of hard work by the young people and their parents, the harvest is delivering the first signs of a new outlook from the school gardens.

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