Permaculutre School Gardens
Over the last 15 years we have introduced Permaculture principles to many schools in the Nkhata Bay District. Permaculture is a brilliant way to make the school a welcoming and homely environment for the children, and if the teachers commit to a weekly session out in the garden with the children then a lot can be achieved.
Using the garden as a learning tool for the children has proved very successful, both for food production, environmental and health issues. The sessions are very practical, and since Josie has a deep passion for the environment, she has trained many teachers, Government officials and community members about permaculture and environmental issues. Permaculture Design Courses have also been held at Butterfly, a more detailed programme, but one which also offered the chance to local community members and Government workers to get involved in the learning.
Two of the schools that we work with have linked with Scope, a regional Permaculture training initiative, and this means they benefit from lots of training opportunities and link ups with other schools in the country doing permaculture. It offers the potential to bring back ideas and resources that can be tried locally.
A really successful year, 2015-16, with Mkondezi Primary School saw the local programme naturally expanding. Josie Redmonds and Kate Swatridge tried to isolate the factors that had made that year successful at the school to replicate those factors for as many interested teachers as possible. It was a great success and by 2018 they were working with 15 schools in the District. More detail on this expanding programme can be seen in Malawi School Permaculture Clubs (MSPC).
Volunteering at Schools
There is potential to expand the project in different ways at different schools.
- Mkondezi and Limphasse Schools have access to a hectare of land, and could work towards producing food, through permaculture principles, directly for the school-feeding program.
- At Mkondezi school, there are empty but sturdy workshop buildings which are old home economic and carpentry workshops, which could be renovated. This would allow both nutritional lessons linked to the garden and also carpentry skills training.
- Run cooking lessons incorporating moringa, ginger, turmeric plants from the permaculture gardens, teaching the students about nutrition. Sessions at the schools could be complimented by nutritional snacks cooked on site.
- A recent link to Africa Direct has seen the potential of small build projects happening at the MSPC Schools. Looking which schools are most in need there is the potential for classroom blocks, compost toilets or other essential building to be built.
- Build alternative technologies like a rainwater harvester and solar cookers at schools to increase awareness of environmental issues and help to teach relevant skills.