By Sibylle Kronimus, School Garden Coordinator for Mlango
New school year 2018/2019, 1st Term
Our four schools reported on their gardening activities in the first term from September to December 2018. What went well, which fruits are grown, where are problems?
Nsanjama (agriculture teacher George Ntalamu)
George is an active young teacher who is enthusiastic about new things. I hope he stays at this school for a long time with about 1,450 students. There are now one large and two small vegetable gardens, a small orchard and two small groves with donated and self-bred trees. In addition, grows slightly off a mango orchard with about 60 trees. For the own tree nursery were bought. It is important to me that a own compost (manure) was created.
In September 2018, a fence made of bamboo and straw was built in collaboration with the large vegetable garden and the mango plantation. The fences are unfortunately not very stable, because termites like to erode the bamboo piles. George took up my suggestion to incorporate neem leaves in the ground around some bamboo piles (the active ingredients of neem reduce the appetite and multiplication of, for example, termites). He was delighted to report that these posts were not destroyed by termites. But strong winds came and pushed the rest of the fence with its straw walls. In the near future, a new fence with Neem technology for the bamboo piles will be erected.
The soil of the growing areas for vegetables (rape, Chinese cabbage) and tree seedlings, the vegetable garden and the mango orchard were dug up and mulched. In the vegetable garden pumpkin (as leafy vegetables), tomatoes and green beans were cultivated. The pumpkin plant harvest was not enough for all the students, the leaves were taken home to make relish out of it.
The leaves of Chinese cabbage and rape were perforated by pests, the leaves of the tomatoes were damaged by sucking insects (“nkhuwawe”): nothing could be harvested. The seed of the beans was only in a bed near the building, not in the garden. The cultivated sweet potatoes seem to flourish so far.
Mapereka (agriculture teacher Adrian Mbendera)
There is a larger school forest (woodlot), which is constantly expanding with new trees. Adrian and his colleague work in their own, newly established nursery after the knowledge acquired in nursery training. Here grow about 100 different young plants, which are to be planted later. It should also be grown fruit trees. The garden area is small, so no vegetables can be sold. A comparison of the maps of spring and autumn 2018 (sketches without scale) shows that the school garden has unfortunately become smaller for around 960 pupils.
Tomatoes, corn, rapeseed (as leafy vegetables) were grown. The seeds came from the agriculture committee and the parents. After cooking methods taught in the classroom (“home economic”), the students prepared food from the harvested vegetables, which they then ate.
During school holidays, students took care of the garden and nursery. The biggest challenge for the garden was the lack of water, as no water could be pumped out of the new well due to the low water level.
In the school garden, compost (including livestock manure brought in from home) is used instead of mineral fertilizer. Contact has been established with the WESM (Wildlife and Environmental Society of Malawi) to make the school a member of the wildlife club. WESM employees visited Mapereka and promised watering cans, rubber boots and gloves.
Nkondezi (agriculture teacher Blessings Mugwa)
At this school with about 860 children there are enjoyable activities. A agriculture club was founded, in which the two agriculture teachers Blessings Mugwa and Getrude Gonakumoto, each with 10 dedicated students, do all the gardening work together. This club also organizes visits to other schools to gain experience in gardening.
As can be seen from the maps, the school garden was enlarged in 2018.
Until October, the soil was prepared in the school garden and vegetables were sown. The area for a tree nursery has been fenced, the soil worked and prepared for sowing (Acacia, Glyricidia and Moringa). The knowledge from the tree nursery training was used. In December, corn and tomatoes grew and a nursery was established (Teacher’s report Mr. Makaluka).
In agriculture lessons u. a. The following mediates:
What can grow in a garden, how is a garden created and managed, risks of planting, cultivation of cassava and peanuts, water supply / irrigation, improvement of soil fertility, planting and maintaining a nursery, an orchard, woodlot, a parcel with Agro-forestry. Chicken farming. Plant of a pond. Agricultural machinery.
Mwangothaya (author of the report is unknown)
There was no direct contact with the school after a dedicated teacher, who could operate the laptop, charge him with the existing solar system, and send messages by mail, had left the school. Recently, the new school secretary Benjamin Gondwe announced by mail, so that here a new beginning of communication seems possible. Approximately 590 children attend this school.
In her December report, teacher Mai Namvuwa has added little to the school garden. The gardening is done by the agriculture teachers, their colleagues, the school feeding committee and students. The village community (community) should be involved in the gardening. The lessons teach the importance of agriculture and which trees and fruits grow in Malawi. It was built a garden fence, u.a. Rape, pumpkin, peas and bonongwe (?) Grown. Young seedlings of mangoes, pears and eucalyptus have been planted and grow well. It is planned to improve the soil structure, grow more vegetables and plant additional trees. How to proceed to start a nursery seems to be known. Whether and where a small area was prepared for this is not described. Unfortunately, there is no clear indication of how big the current school garden is.
The agriculture teacher of Nsanjama and Nkondezi have picked up on my proposal and sent a list of missing gardening tools and seeds. Acquisition and distribution of necessary wheelbarrows, hoes, knives and the like About our on-site coordinator, Wyson Phillipo, is planned to improve garden management.
With the help of George (Nsanjama) or Blessings (Nkondezi) also clearer maps are to be created at Mapereka and Mwangothaya.
The training organized in May 2018 on how to plant a tree nursery led to the initiation of the cultivation of small trees (local seeds) in all schools. Here are Mlango photos to be sent to track progress.
In Nkondezi and Nsanjama, at my suggestion, a garden area of 5 x 5 m² will be available as a trial and reference area. There I want to have the soil examined (BARS). Depending on the results, soil improvement activities should follow (e.g., plant selection, crop rotation, apply compost) to easily achieve higher yields in the vegetable garden.
I will follow the reported pest infestation more closely and look after prevention and remedy. Maybe Felix from the research station BARS can help me with that. The desire for conventional, chemical pesticides I will not comply. Here I see the danger that people and the environment are endangered by an unmatched dose. Instead, powder and oil from neem tree fruits seems to me to be a helpful alternative. In addition, the FAO manual contains information.
Unfortunately in Mulanje there are problems with transferring current pictures from the school gardens. That’s why the next report on the gardens and tree plantings will be more colorful again.