In 2012, Children in the Wilderness Zimbabwe supplied heavy duty gardening tools, fruit trees and vegetable seed to assist with start-up vegetable gardens and orchard projects at certain schools participating in Children and the Wilderness Eco-Clubs in the Tsholotsho District. Since then, the schools have been competing year after year for the Best Eco-Gardening Prize. These gardens and orchards play an important part in the schools farming and agricultural syllabus, as well as assisting in supplementing their nutrition programmes.
Children in the Wilderness visits regularly to conduct training in conservation farming techniques at eight schools in the Tsholotsho and Hwange districts including Ngamo, Ziga, Kapane, Mpindo, Jakalasi, St Mary’s, Jabulani and Emfundweni Primary Schools. Education in Eco-Gardening places emphasis on training students and community members in the development of environmentally friendly practices that have turned previously unproductive soils into lucrative, well-managed and high-yielding vegetable gardens and orchards. To encourage active participation by the schools, a floating trophy and prize tour to Victoria Falls is presented to the school with the “Best Vegetable Garden and Orchard” at the end of each school year.
The areas in which these rural communities live are characterised by Kalahari sands and erratic rainfall, so much time and effort has been put into these gardens. As a result, the schools have beautiful organic gardens that provide a wonderful source of healthy green vegetables to both students and community members.
We are pleased to announce the winners for 2016’s Best Vegetable Garden Award as Ziga Primary School of Tsholotsho District. Presentation of the floating trophy was made by CITW representatives at the end of term three and the Eco-Club is scheduled to visit Victoria Falls and Hwange Hydro Power station as their prize in Term 2 this year.
The vermiculture programme has had a major impact on the gardens. Without water, proper training in vermiculture and proper gardening tools, gardening would be an impossible task for Ziga Primary School that lies in Agro region 5. This region is characterised by deep Kalahari sands and very little rainfall. Training, and the provision of water, turned a once dusty landscape into a productive garden haven. The school managed their gardens and took the prize by: maintaining mulch cover; maintaining the soil structure and preserving the microorganisms; planting according to precise spacings and specifications; using 100% compost, and no harmful fertilizers; weeding was done regularly and inter-cropping was used as a pest control measure. The school has used a portion of their prize money to purchase 60 citrus fruit trees to expand their orchard.
The garden’s success has also had a positive impact on the schools administration by enabling them to purchase a much needed safe for the safe keeping of their National exam papers, as well as assisting with many other administrative expenses with which the school has previously struggled. Congratulations to Ziga Primary School.