By Grant Potter
Slow Food International continues to make progress on its ambitious pledge to create 1,000 vegetable gardens in every African community participating in its Terra Madre network. The aptly named “A Thousand Gardens in Africa” is now in its most active stage as coordinators fundraise for future gardens, inaugurate new gardens, and form an educational network between existing gardens.
Highlighted countries are participating in Slow Food International’s 1,000 Gardens Project (Photo Credit: Slow Food International)
One of the most important elements of the project is fundraising. Slow Food estimates that all the inputs required to make a successful garden, including research, materials, training, and networking, cost approximately US$1,290. According to Slow Food, they have raised enough to finance over 141 gardens. They have also partnered with many restaurants throughout Italy where proceeds from special fundraising nights will go to the gardens.
Over the last few months Slow Food has been actively opening up new gardens. The project saw the creation of its first gardens in Tanzania at a primary school in Dar Es Salaam, as well as Msindo, a tiny village in the southern part of the country. There are 13 gardens in Uganda, 11 gardens in Kenya, two gardens in Tanzania, and one garden in Cote D’Ivoire. Slow Food tracks their progress on an interactive map, updated as new gardens are launched.
Slow Food is also making sure that these African gardens are linked to one another, allowing growers to share information and experiences with one another.
To solidify this network, Slow Food organized a series of seminars from June 15th-17th in Nakurum, Kenya. The seminar brought together 70 garden coordinators from all over Africa to share what they have learned from their unique experiences and help them find ways to bring that knowledge to their communities.
Edie Mukiibi, a garden coordinator in Uganda–and a contributing author to State of the World 2011, spoke to us about the important role a Thousand Gardens plays in African communities. “It is time to be proud of being a food producer and revive our lost food traditions in Africa,” says Mukiibi. A Thousand Gardens “is an opportunity for young ones, like me,” says Mukiibi, “to visit the African food libraries- the old people we still have.” The gardens not only strengthen ties between communities but also within communities through the oral exchange of agricultural traditions and practices.
What do you think? What is the best way to feed and empower villages throughout Africa? Let us know in the comments section!
Grant Potter is a research intern with the Nourishing the Planet project.