One of the many things I love about Amboaloboka, the school I live and work at, is the fresh food. A good portion of what we eat comes straight from our own backyard. The students are encouraged to practice their gardening skills by having a small garden of their own. We have three plots of land, one for each class, in or around our property. The teachers from Fa Fa Fi, the agriculture department, teach the girls how to start and maintain a garden. The school provides the land, the seeds, the water, and the time for the girls to practice their gardening skills.
Most of the students at Amboaloboka tend a garden because it is a way to earn money. Yes, that’s right, the school buys their produce! The girls pay a monthly fee for their education and the food cost is wrapped up into that fee. When a crop is ready to be harvested, the student lets a teacher know and the school or my household will buy the produce and eat it for dinner! Between the three plots of land there are carrots, green peppers, another type of pepper called sakay be, green onion, ginger, greens, lettuce, cucumbers, squash, tomatoes, green beans, red and white (we’d call them green) grapes, and pumpkins! All of which are delicious! We also have a couple banana, orange, papaya, and avocado trees right outside my house. Those however are first come first serve and go pretty darn quick!
I think this is such a great idea! The students get hands on practice and guidance from their teachers. I’m confident that when girls go back to their community they will be able to start a garden and provide for their families. The students also benefit by being able to make a little money. Some students put the money towards tuition, others save the money to be able to travel home at breaks, or treat themselves to a coke or new clothes. And of course, it is always rewarding to enjoy the fruits of your labor. The girls take great pride in their produce, as they should, because it is delicious.
I am hoping I will have learned enough this year to start a little garden of my own someday. Eating fresh food and with the seasons is something I have really come to appreciate and will miss greatly! I mean, taking fruit right from the tree, what’s better?