Container gardening for vegetables and tree seedlings (Patrick HARRY)

Here is an interesting message from :




Piyasani village is one of the rural area villages which is located to the west of Lilongwe city. The village is the home of the founder of the organization  Patrick HARRY, where he is currently staying.  Malawi is a poor country with most of its people surviving on one dollar per day and this why the project started to empower the community to take part in this simple and cheap project.

Piyasani village is the headquarter of the organization. Its container gardening project encourages the growing of vegetables and the raising of tree seedlings.  It is one of the first projects to help in both nutrition and reforestation in Malawi .


The project helps to clean up the environment from all trash and dirt, because every useless paper or bottles or containers shall be used to grow plants. This project is ensuring that the people avoid sanitation problems and as a result diseases like cholera are prevented.  The container gardening project is sensitizing children, because they are the future leaders of tomorrow.

The Future of Malawi is a non-seeking-profit organization (nspo), which was founded in December 2007 in Belgium by Patrick HARRY. He is a Malawian by nationality. He was motivated by Professor Willem VAN COTTHEM, who is doing a similar project in Algeria and aiming at realizing similar projects in other parts of the world.

This container gardening project is a blessing to this country, which is experiencing serious deforestation and poor nutrition, especially among children under the age of five. The project is suiting Malawi because it can be started even with zero capital, as most resources to be used can be found locally for free or costing almost nothing.

Malawi is loosing its vegetation cover every year at a faster rate than the trees being planted annually and this is why this organization is targeting raising tree seedlings to make sure that all deforested areas get back  their former glory.

As death rate of children is so high, due to malnutrition, this project encourages growing of vegetables, in order to make sure that the future generation will be healthier. As most people depend on maize as a staple food, this project encourages growing other crops, which can be added to the staple food list, like rice, cassava, vegetables and even fruits for vitamins.

There are several organizations which are in the forefront of helping to save the remaining natural heritage in Malawi, but none of them is encouraging the cheap way of raising tree seedlings like the Future of Malawi is doing. So this organization is the first one to take up the challenges of both nutrition and deforestation.

The organization is proud to be assisted by international members to set this project on the map and help it to achieve its goals.

The project is located in Piyasani village in traditional authority Njewa to the west of Lilongwe city, which is experiencing serious littering problems. It is the best site for the project, because every otherwise useless bottle or plastic bag or container can be used by the project. This is one way of ensuring that the environment of Lilongwe is as clean as possible. The other target of the project is to help make Lilongwe one of the cleanest cities in Malawi.

To bring back the environment of Malawi to its former glory. This shall be achieved through the container gardening project.

• To help to combat hunger in Malawi
• To help in poverty alleviation
• To effectively assist in combating desertification.

• Offering environment education to the people of Malawi
• Training essions
• Project monitoring and evaluation
• Management of the project and several other services
• Fundraising activities

The priority issues to be addressed by the project are related to: awareness, environmental conservation, education, poverty alleviation, container gardening education centre establishment, reforestation, and establishing partnership with international organizations to help to bring volunteers for the project implementation activities and also fundraising activities through donations or organization of local fundraising activities.

• agriculture
• awareness
• health
• indigenous knowledge
• land purchasing

Currently the founder of the organization Patrick Harry has set up a Computer school as one way of fundraising the organization. The Computer school is located in Piyasani village, where the organization office is located. It is the cheapest school of all to make sure that even poor people in the village, who can’t afford to go to college have access to learn the new technology. The school is offering courses in all packages. All the money to be raised is for the enhancement of the Container gardening project in Malawi. Meanwhile the organization is requesting well–wishers to support the organization in anyway, whether materially or financially.

• Increased planting of trees annually to minimize deforestation
• Poverty alleviation through money raised from sales of container gardening plants.
• To have bumper yields in crops and vegetables to help check hunger.
• Encourage communities to take Container gardening as business.

Patrick Harry is the manager of the project with assistance from the general secretary and the treasurer.

International members (partners) and local members will take part in the success of the project through advice, financial help or material assistance.

A member or partner can choose to work with THE FUTURE OF MALAWI (FOM) either as a member, a volunteer or a friend of FOM. Any contribution to the organization is welcome.  Every donation made to the organization, whether material of financial shall be used  for the intended purpose and transaction shall be recorded for future reference. Auditors will be allowed to conduct their audit every year and an annual financial report shall be submitted to all targeted individual and organization, whether local or international.

A village committee shall be established to make sure that the community fully takes part in the project.

By Patrick Harry.

The project is involved in trying to reduce deforestation in the country by planting tree seeds in otherwise useless containers. After the tree seedlings reach a considerable height they are transplanted at the project site, while others are donated to various schools around Lilongwe city.

Apart from raising tree seedling, also various vegetables are being planted in otherwise useless containers and plastic bags as one way of checking the problem of hunger. Some vegetables are also being sold to villages to teach them that they can reduce poverty using this kind of initiative.

The organization is planning to build an education centre, which will also act as a demonstration centre for the project.

Education of children in container gardening was identified as the best way of spreading this kind of initiative, because children are taken as the future leaders of tomorrow.

When the founder of the organization was in Belgium for a three months international study programme, he had a meeting with Professor Willem VAN COTTHEM who introduced him to the container gardening initiative. In his speech, the professor said “Imagine that a school has one thousand children and every child grows only one tree in a plastic bottle during the school year.  How many trees could be planted every year in Africa ?”.

It was through this encouragement that The Future of Malawi (FOM) decided to give priority to sensitize the people of Malawi about the importance of container gardening.

As the country is facing a lot of problems like g-food shortages, poverty and desertification, this is the time to wake up the people and help them rescuing the country through a very interesting initiative called ‘Container gardening’. Everywhere in the country people can use free useless bottles and useless plastic bags to plant tree seeds, seeds of vegetables or other plants.

In order to prove to the village that Container Gardening can work, the project started planting flowers in containers and plastic bags as one way of beautifying the project site.

Now the Future of Malawi project site has been nicknamed by various villagers as ‘THE FOUR SEASONS CENTRE’ . “Four seasons” is one of the famous flower production companies in Malawi and their campus is really beautified with flowers. So, how comes that villagers compare the FOM project site with such a big institution?

Some villagers are copying the initiative and some of them are now planting flowers in their homes.

For more information please contact:

Patrick Harry,                        OR                        c/o Mr Elius Harry,
Piyasani village,                                                         British high commission,
T/A Njewa,                                                                 P.O.BOX 30042
Lilongwe.                                                                    Lilongwe 3,
Malawi( central Africa)                                            Malawi ( Central Africa).
Cellphone: +265999071966.

E-Mail :  /


Published by

Willem Van Cotthem

Honorary Professor of Botany, University of Ghent (Belgium). Scientific Consultant for Desertification and Sustainable Development.