School Solutions: Gardening (Google / DigTriad)

Read at : Google Alert – gardening

http://www.digtriad.com/news/GoodMorning/article.aspx?storyid=104124&catid=67

School Solutions: Gardening

Posted by: Erica Taylor, Reporter

Soils and plants are part of the standard course of study for 3rd graders. Requiring a student to study silt and clay doesn’t mean they will enjoy it.

Greensboro, NC – To increase interest, one elementary school brought in a master gardener, closed the science book and took the lesson outside. “It smells woodsy. Looks like it’s getting there,” said master gardener Sarah Crawford, as she examines ongoing science projects in a 3rd grade classroom at Rankin Elementary School. Crawford shares her expertise with the students, teaching them how to cultivate worms, water plants and study soil, so they can learn how to grow a garden. It’s a lesson best learned beyond the walls of a classroom. “I wanted to build for them an outdoor classroom, where they could actually take the science they were learning and come out and actually apply it,” said Crawford. “In a book, it’s just telling you how to do it,” said 3rd grader Latwon London. “When you’re outside, you’re doing it in real life.” Given Rankin Elementary School’s urban location, for many students, this is their first time growing anything. Continue reading School Solutions: Gardening (Google / DigTriad)

Sunflowers a perfect gardening project for children and beginners (Google / Columbia Missourian)

Read at : Google Alert – gardening

http://www.columbiamissourian.com/stories/2008/05/21/sunflowers-perfect-gardening-project-children-and-/

Sunflowers a perfect gardening project for children and beginners

May 21, 2008

Do you enjoy the cheerfulness of sunflowers? Sunflowers are easy to grow, perfect for children or beginning gardeners and come in many varieties. Whether you want pint-sized plants for containers or giants for the garden, sunflowers come in a full range of colors: yellows, oranges, russets, ivory and bicolor. Sunflowers can be enjoyed by anybody with access to the sun, a piece of land big or small, or to a flower pot. They are good as cut flowers as they produce enough blooms for the table and last a long time in arrangements. Continue reading Sunflowers a perfect gardening project for children and beginners (Google / Columbia Missourian)

The European Tribune, food crisis and desertification (Willem)

Do you know the “European Tribune” : http://www.eurotrib.com/ ?

About the European Tribune

The European Tribune is founded by active contributors to the US progressive blogosphere, aiming to emulate its energy, wealth of information, and community spirit with a focus on European and international issues. The European Tribune is a forum for thoughtful political dialogue between European countries on their national and European affairs and also with Americans (and Canadians and others!) on world affairs.

In the context of the Bush administration’s “War on Terror”, official transatlantic dialogue has become bitter and rancorous and we must make sure that citizens on both sides of the ocean have a chance to better understand each other’s problems, internal debates and ideas. Information on the domestic politics of both sides of the ocean – and how it is perceived from elsewhere – are a core staple of the European Tribune. Global issues like peak oil, the emergence of China, the future of the European Union, immigration, pollution will be discussed from various perspectives.

Lighter stories, travel experience, personal testimonies and the like are explicitly encouraged. Continue reading The European Tribune, food crisis and desertification (Willem)

Family gardens, school gardens and urban gardening against the actual food crisis (Willem)

Family gardens, school gardens and urban gardening against the actual food crisis

Drought is described as a very important environmental constraint, limiting plant growth and food production. The World Food Program (WFP) has recently indicated drought in Australia as one of the major factors for the difficulty to deliver food aid to millions of people suffering from hunger and malnutrition. Drought is seen as the force driving up wheat and rice prices, which contributes directly to food shortage, social unrest and disturbances at the global level. Therefore, mitigating drought and limiting water consumption seems to be essential factors for resolving the actual food crisis and to find long-term solutions to malnutrition, hunger and famine, particularly in the drylands.

Application of water stocking soil conditioners, keeping the soil moistened with a minimum of irrigation water, and seeding or planting more drought tolerant species and varieties will definitely contribute to solve the food crisis. Scientists in China and the USA have recently discovered important genetic information about drought tolerance of plants. It was thereby shown that drought tolerant mutants of Arabidopsis thaliana have a more extensive root system than the wild types, with deeper roots and more lateral roots, and show a reduced leaf stomatal density. My own research work on the soil conditioning compound TerraCottem has led to similar conclusions : treatment with this soil conditioner induced enhancement of the root system with a higher number of lateral roots. More roots means more root tips and thus a higher number of water absorbing root hairs, sitting close to the root meristem. As a result, plants with more roots can better explore the soil and find the smallest water quantities in a relatively dry soil.

As the world’s population is growing by about 78 million people a year, it affects life on this earth in a very dramatic way. Droughts have caused a rise of food prices many times before, but the present situation is quite different, because it is based on specific trends and facts : the faster growing world population and a definite change in international food consumption trends and habits.

Some experts claim that “major investments to boost world food output will keep shortages down to the malnutrition level in some of the world’s poorer nations“, and that “improving farm infrastructure and technological boosts to farm yields can create a lot of small green revolutions, particularly in Africa”.

It seems quite difficult to believe that “major investments to boost the food output” will be able to “keep the food shortages down to the malnutrition level“, wherever in this world. Indeed, the world’s most famous research institutes have already developed very effective technologies to boost food production in the most adverse conditions of serious drought and salinity. Yet, not one single organization has ever decided, up to now, to use “major investments” to apply such technologies in large-scale programs, which would most certainly change the food situation in the world’s poorest nations.

It seems also difficult to believe that “improving farm infrastructure and technological boosts to farm yields” will be able to create “small green revolutions, particularly in Africa”. It is not by improving a farm’s infrastructure that one will manage drought. Although a number of technological solutions to boost farm yields have already been developed, only those tackling the drought problems are an option to create significant changes.

I do not believe that such changes can be realized at the level of large-scale farms. On the contrary, I am convinced that application of cost-effective, soil conditioning methods to enhance the water retention capacity of the soil and to boost biomass production in the drylands, is the best solution to help the poor rural people to avoid malnutrition and hunger, giving them a “fresh” start with a daily portion of “fresh vegetables”. These rural people, forming the group most affected by the food crisis, do not need to play a role in boosting the world’s food production. They simply need to produce enough food for their own family (“to fill their own hungry stomach“). Application of cost-effective technologies should therefore be programmed at the level of small-scale “family gardens” or “school gardens” and not at the scale of huge (industrial) farms, where return on investment is always the key factor for survival of the business.

Preferentially, major investments to boost the food output in the drylands should be employed to improve food production in family gardens and school gardens, in order to offer all rural people an opportunity to produce more and better food, vegetables and fruits, full of vitamins and mineral elements, mostly for their own family members or kids, partly for the local market.

Splendid examples of long-term combating food shortage with family gardens can be seen since 2006 in the refugee camps in S.W. Algeria (UNICEF project). One can only hope that such a success story will soon be duplicated in many similar situations, where hungry people wait for similar innovative and well-conceived practices, with a remarkable return on investment, laying solid foundations for further sustainable development.

Recently, a number of initiatives have been taken to enhance urban gardening space, not only with allotment gardens, but also with “guerilla gardening” and transformation of open, underused spaces into small-scale garden plots for downtown dwellers, apartment dwellers and even for university students like those at the McGill University in Montreal. Many poor urban people are very keen on harvesting their own crops in such small gardens or applying container gardening on balconies, terraces, rooftops or other unused open spaces. Support for urban agriculture or urban gardening can be seen as a priority for decision-makers to reverse the world’s food crisis.

Food aid, be it with billions of dollars, can only be very effective if priority is given to local food production for the poor rural or urban people, who can not afford to buy the expensive commercial food products in shops or supermarkets. Small-scale family gardens, school gardens, allotment gardens and urban gardens in unused open spaces should be our strategic counter-attack against the actual food crisis.

The Junior Master Gardener Program for gardening kids (Dave’s Garden)

Read at : Dave’s Garden Weekly Newsletter

http://davesgarden.com/guides/articles/view/687/?utm_source=nl_2008-04-21&utm_medium=email

Kids in the Garden, The Junior Master Gardener Program

By Paul Rodman (paulgrow)

April 18, 2008

There’s no better way to get kids involved in gardening than to introduce them to the Jr. Master Gardener program.  The Junior Master Gardener mission statement is “To grow kids by igniting a passion for learning, success, and service through a unique gardening education.”

If you have a child, grandchild, niece or nephew or know any child who has shown any type of interest in nature or growing things, this program is for them.

In today’s world of computer games, cable television and cell phones more and more kids are staying inside the house instead of getting outside in the fresh air.

This program combines learning along with fun activities to teach the children about gardening and horticulture at a level that they can understand. The majority of the programs across the country are tailored to 3rd-5th graders.

Continue reading The Junior Master Gardener Program for gardening kids (Dave’s Garden)

Spanish Gardening (Google / Round Town News)

Read at : Google Alert – gardening

http://www.roundtownnews.co.uk/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=14549&Itemid=38

Spanish Gardening – Hints & Tips
Written by Clodagh & Dick Handscombe

ENCOURAGING THE NEXT GENERATION

W

e read recently in the UK press that the Scout movement has updated it’s range of achievement/skill badges by introducing new ones related to 21st century skills such as karting, quadbiking, parascending and thankfully one related to healthy eating and what we assume is still the motto of the scout movement ‘Be Prepared’. However the listed essential tasks for the latter included making a fruit salad, two different sandwiches, making an omelette and homemade meat balls, listing some unhealthy foods but not – but may have been omitted in the article – experiencing the growing of some organically grown vegetables or fruit and then preparing a meal with them. And how easy their growing would be in a large container even for the Beaver Scouts living in apartments. Un fortunately today’s ethos is too often don’t get your hands dirty. When we suggested during a talk on growing vegetables to the Agronomist students at the Polytechnic University in Valencia that they grow some vegetables in containers on their apartment terraces for healthy eating during their four course  professors informed us that they were educating agronomists who would work in agricultural/food  laboratories or as quality control advisers and not training agriculturalists. Likewise many articles in the newspapers and magazines comment on the need to eat healthier fresh chemical free vegetables and fruit but fail to suggest that one grows ones own. Continue reading Spanish Gardening (Google / Round Town News)

Back from my mission in Algeria

Dear visitors of my blogs,

It took me a while to tackle all the classical problems of a longer absence : correspondence, reports to write, reply to emails, etc. But now I am back at my blogs and hope to catch up as soon as possible.

For now, let me tell you something about the success of our UNICEF project in Algeria “Construction of family gardens and school gardens in the refugees’ camps of Tindouf (S.W. Algeria – Sahara desert)“.

The Sahrawi people are extremely motivated to get their small gardens ready as soon as possible. From 208 gardens in 2006, the number of gardens grew to more than 1200. These gardens are treated with our soil conditioner TerraCottem (<www.terracottem.com>) to stock a maximum of saline irrigation water in the upper 20-30 cm of sandy soil. Seeds of vegetables are provided by UNICEF ALGERIA. Young trees are offered by the Forestry Services of Tindouf. Local schools are also participating in the project. Follow-up is assured by a Technical Committee and several agronomists.

In August 2007, I launched an action of seed collection in Belgium. With the help of the media (newspapers, radio, television), I invited my compatriots to send me the seeds of tropical fruits, which are normally thrown in the garbage bin (melon, watermelon, pumpkin, papaya, avocado, sweet pepper etc.). There was a massive and remarkably positive reaction of the Belgians ! For the first time, someone is not asking money for development cooperation, but only garbage seeds.

I received already more than 100 kg of seeds, half of which were already taken to the refugee camps on my last trip, or send by the Algerian Embassy for use in Algerian school gardens (another nice UNICEF project, called : “Schools, Friends of the children”).

It is really fantastic to see, for the first time in 30 years in these camps of the Sahrawis, vegetables growing in small desert gardens. What a splendid contribution to human health in those extremely difficult conditions ! This is the best way to provide continuously fresh food and fruits with vitamins and mineral elements, in particular for the children.

You look for success stories ? This is one of the best ! I will soon show you some more pictures.

Team with UNICEF seeds   Family garden Layoun  Family garden Layoun 2  watermelons in Dahla

(Click on the pictures to enlarge)

Unicef team and Sahrawis engineers carrying seeds from UNICEF / Some of the family gardens at the end of October 2007.

More on school gardens (Agricultural Biodiversity)

Read at :

Agricultural Biodiversity Weblog (see my Blogroll)

http://agro.biodiver.se/2007/08/more-on-school-gardens/

More on school gardens

at August 7, 2007

A brief summary of edible schoolyards in the US, with useful links. A couple more links that I snagged over at Desertification. A new book on Gardening with Children and an article about how teachers in San Francisco are using gardening, with a video. Desertification has also published a comment on the subject as a full post, which seems like a neat bit of recycling.

Food production in transparent plastic bottles and cups (C. ASH, J. TOLLEDOT, Willem)

Here is nice additional comment of Charles ASH on :

Recycling plastic bottles and pots (Charlesash / Willem) August 3, 2007

“You don’t really need to cover the transparent plastic because there appears to be no harm or set back to the plant if you don’t. It’s mainly cosmetic. Not only that, seeing the roots creates more interest. When we used them we got many youngsters interested because we could explain easier and show “what grows underground” of a plant. It created huge interest and some of those youngsters went on to a career in horticulture. So my suggestion is, don’t permanently cover them. Enjoy a sight you do not normally see.

We don’t have any problems removing plants, even well established or large plants, from plastic plant pots. They always come out with the root ball intact and unharmed. They may need a gentle tap once or twice but they always come out ok. And we get to use the pot again!

Charlesash”

Thanks, Charles !  It encourages me to continue my efforts introducing plastic bottle gardening in schools of developing countries.  I strongly believe that every kid in developing countries should set up its own vegetable garden in plastic bottles and shopping bags, not only at school, but also at home.

At school, they can be helped by the teachers, at home, by their mothers.

The result would be :

1. A remarkable enhancement of fresh food production, particularly in desertified areas.

2. An interesting improvement in the situation of food security, malnutrition or famine.

3. A very profitable improvement in public health (less deficiencies, less diseases.

4. Better environmental  conservation and protection (less littering of plastic).

5. Enormous educational value.

———————————–

Will this appeal on all stakeholders (decision makers, authorities, donors, NGOs, local people, …) one day be heard ?  I hope it will happen before the end of my days, with all my heart !

Who can resist the beauty of vegetables and fruits growing close to or even in our house or school ?  Look at this beautiful picture of Joseph TOLLEDOT :

Party cup Pepper

Black manaqualana Pepper growing well in a recycled party cup (J. TOLLEDOT, July 25, 2007)

“Gardening kids are truly inspired, food providers for their families” (Kids Gardening)

Read at :

Kids Gardening

http://www.kidsgardening.com/grants/2006-evaluation-summary.asp

 Evaluation Summary ~ 2006 NGA Grant Winners

The National Gardening Association has been providing material assistance to youth and community gardens through grants since 1983, and in 2005 we started collecting data to track the impact of our grants programs via a year-end evaluation summary completed by grant recipients. Here are results for the 2006 grant cycle, based on 487 evaluations (74% response rate):

Grant Program

# responses

% response

Youth Garden Grants

116

77%

Mantis Awards

20

80%

Remember Me Rose

14

70%

Kids Growing with Dutch Bulbs

305

72%

Hooked on Hydroponics

12

86%

Healthy Sprouts

20

80%

These grants are awarded based on merit. Winners were chosen through evaluation of written applications; winning applicants indicated well-planned, comprehensive, community-supported, and sustainable youth garden programs. Because the pool of applicants and types of programs vary each year, the statistics noted here are dynamic.

Evaluation Highlights (continued with several statistics)

Here are a few comments gathered during year-end evaluations: Continue reading “Gardening kids are truly inspired, food providers for their families” (Kids Gardening)