End of May I visited four of the Project school gardens in Ashanti Region, together with Ivy Osei-Sampah and Ben Kusi Apiah of GOAN who are responsible for the implementation of the field work. We went to Abori, Assuowin, Adupri and Barekuma where we met the headmasters of the schools and some of the teachers. At two schools we came at lunchtime and we were present when the children had their lunch. At this time of the year the rainy season had just started so there was no produce from the school gardens that could be used for the lunches. We discussed some of the problems that occur in the school gardens, like the absence of a proper fence which allows farm animals like goats and pigs to eat from the crops in the garden. The farmers of the community made bamboo fencing but this lasts only one growing season. Still the teachers are very keen to continue with the school gardens. They see the benefits for the school children in healthy food for their lunches and training in organic practices for school children and farmers within the communities. We talked with many farmers who are now convinced about the benefits of organic agriculture as an alternative for the use of chemicals in their farming systems.
The group of farmers that participated in the Farmer Field School in Abori in Amansi West District is very committed and hard working. In Abori all the 40 farmers of the FFS jointly started an organic farm on a plot of 5 acres. They were trained by GOAN on group formation and elected a chairman, secretary and treasurer. The group is composed of 70% women and 30% men. The chairman and the secretary are men while the treasurer is a woman. The main problem in Abori is water. In order to get a constant supply of organic vegetables they need some sort of irrigation, but at this moment there are no funds to realise this. Also in Adupri the farmers of the Farmers Field School have organised themselves to start an organic farm. The chief of the village, who is also a member of the group, has allocated 10 acres close to the river for the purpose of an organic farm owned by the group.
This year, the Organic School Garden Project will add six new school gardens to the project and in 2010 eight more school gardens will be set up.
Inge Vos, Agro Eco Louis Bolk Institute