May was marked with a hive of activities in the school gardens at eight of our CITW Zambezi Tsholotsho partner schools, namely, Ngamo, Ziga, Mtshayeli, Mlevu, Kapane and Jakalasi primary schools. Ngamo and Kapane secondaries also had the opportunity to participate in exciting training organised by the Foundations for Farming team. The training took place over 8 days, during which over 450 students, 140 community members, 25 teachers and four local leaders attended the intensive, highly informative sessions.
The Tsholotsho communities received the training with great enthusiasm, as was reflected in the large crowds that took part in all the sessions. Both community members and students had sparkling eyes and a great zeal for absorbing all the information shared by the training staff. They could often be heard marvelling, in awe at the simplicity of the facts being shared.
Three sessions were held at each of the venues, covering the four principles of the foundations for farming. The first stages of the training took part in a classroom setup, where many participants took notes and asked questions. Following this, all of the practical aspects of the programme took place in the school gardens.
The practical training covered topics like establishing vegetable gardens, forming standard gardens, the best ways of siting gardens, and growing different types of vegetables for both family consumption and business. Participants were also taught how to prepare beds for carrots, lettuce, onions, and other fast-growing vegetables that can be sold to create an income for the families. The Foundations for Farming team also demonstrated how to set up vegetable nurseries, as well as shared knowledge on transplanting techniques.
A day’s training proved inadequate to cover all the areas that the Foundations for Farming team had planned. As a result, it was concluded that more time needs to be devoted to the practical training, which is more manageable and relatable for the participants, as opposed to theory lessons.
Following the training, a WhatsApp group was created for the participants. This will serve as a platform for sharing information, ideas, and advice on attaining successful yields from all the vegetables planted during the training sessions.
In addition to the training, each school was also given participant manuals with easy steps to assist them when practising organic farming. Two trainers’ manuals per school for Eco-Mentors to utilise during their Eco-Club lessons were also supplied.
Report by Cynthia Ndiweni, CITW Zambezi Assistant Programme Co-ordinator