HELPING VANUATU REBUILD THROUGH VEGETABLE GARDENS

We take a look at a project Yumi Toktok Stret will be promoting. This project being run by Telecom Vanuatu Limited is A Post PAM project initiated and managed by Wayne and Mereana Mills. A post PAM project looking to instill skills in our schools, skills that can sustain a child for a life time. A Project with a smile! 🙂

Garden View

Introduction

Having experienced the ferocious Cat5 Cyclone Pam and witnessing the aftermath and devastation around Port Vila we were determined to help with the clean-up and recovery of this country we have called home for the past 5 years.
We spoke with others to identify an easy and practical way to assist the NiVanuatu to get back to normality, and consequently settled on the idea of distributing seeds, seedlings and tools and set up a fundraising page in New Zealand. Our view was that locals could grow food to feed themselves and sell surplus produce to start generating an income again.

Initially the intention was to distribute seeds, seedlings and tools to the other islands across Vanuatu, North to South, however since set up a fundraising page in New Zealand and becoming involved in the Government of Vanuatu Food Security and Agriculture cluster we have become aware that the national response to seed distribution appears to address the needs across the islands. Seeds have, and continue to be distributed to specific areas in TORBA, PENAMA, MALAMPA, SHEFA and TAFEA provinces.

Vegetable garden

Programme Focus

Due to the existing national response to distribution of seeds to the islands, it has become apparent that there is a real need for food security in the Port Vila urban area, and peri-urban areas (areas on the fringes of Port Vila). Consequently the Post Pam Project will focus on supporting programmes that are working in this area.
From the information that we have gathered to date there is support to assist schools to establish vegetable gardens for the purpose of growing food to utilize in the school canteen, and with the possibility of selling excess produce to school teachers and parents. It is well known that schools in Vanuatu are underfunded and so the Post Pam Project could help them generate additional funds for school use.

Pre cyclone every school in Port Vila had been encouraged to implement a Healthy Kaikai programme to the school canteens. Some schools ae more advanced at taking the initiative forward, for example Central School has banned sugary drinks from the school canteen. We believe that the Post Pam Project could assist the schools to achieve a healthier food programme.

Additionally there are early discussions across Government departments on “Urban Gardens” where communities across Port Vila could establish vegetable gardens on government or council owned land. There are a number of issues to be addressed by the stakeholders before the concept becomes an active programme of work, but is something that the Post Pam Project will maintain a watching brief in the event that it becomes a viable addition to the Post Pam Project.

Objective: To support NiVanuatu by providing a sustainable food resource through school children and their communities.

garden_1

Work to Date

Initially we thought that we would distribute seeds for locals to grow in their own way, but from our recent experience we have realized that many locals are unsure about how to grow produce from seed. Consequently we have started seedling packs to distribute, the packs currently include dwarf beans, cucumber, tomato, marrow (pumpkin) and Chinese cabbage.

Presently we are actively working with two schools to build vegetable gardens, Vila East School and Central School (school role approx. 1000+).

Briefly, our approach to date is:

  1. Request a meeting with the Principal to ascertain support.
  2. Identify the schools needs through the Agriculture teacher.
  3. Present a proposal to the Principal to address their needs.
  4. Work with the school Groundsman/Gardiner to establish the gardens.
  5. Deliver seedlings to the school for use as an Agriculture class resource through an active planting class.
    The schools have similar needs, but where there is an additional need identified we try to address this as well, for example the learning resource (text) at Vila East School could be improved through updated images and content. Additionally Central School has identified a need to build a seedling nursery.

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Vila East School
o Met with Principal, Gardener and Agriculture teacher.
o Organised good quality soil to be delivered to school and established the bed for the first garden.
o Ordered timber for the building of a new vegetable garden (10m x 1m x .5m) and composting bin (2m x 1m x 1m). Due in country in June 2015.
o Delivered initial pack of seedlings to the Agriculture teacher (40 x Chinese cabbage and 10 x dwarf bean). Provided instruction on sowing seedlings.
o Delivered additional seedlings (25 x tomato, 6 x bean and 8 x cucumber).
– Central School
o Met with Principal, Gardener and Agriculture teacher.
o Awaiting costings for a seedling nursery.
o Yet to do: Finalise programme of work with the Principal and establish the gardens

Costings

Each garden is design specifically for the needs of the school, consequently there is not set ‘cost formula’ for every garden, for example some schools have existing flower gardens that can be utilized for vegetables, others do not have the same resource.

The cost of goods for each garden includes:
– Framing for a garden bed and compost bin.
– Good quality growing soil.
– Seeds / Seedlings.
– Shade cloth (Seedling nursery only).
– Gardening tools (if needed by the school).
– Printing of teaching resources.

As an example, the cost of materials to establish the framed 10m x 1m x .5m garden and the compost bin at Vila East School has cost approximately VT70,000 including soil.
Currently the Post Pam Project covers all costs to establish the gardens, provide a teaching resource and our fuel costs.

Any additional gardens established outside the Post Pam Project funded gardens will incur a management fee per garden.

Post Pam Project
Supporters of the project can follow progress of the programme of work here:

https://givealittle.co.nz/cause/cyclonepamvanuatu/updates
https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Post-Pam-Project-rebuilding-livelihoods-in-Vanuatu/193361544016364?ref=bookmarks

Author

Julian Ligo

Director

The current director for Yumi Toktok Stret. A strong advocator for the "internet" as a tool to support good governance. Currently promoting the internet as the tool to drive change and believes "media must play a better role in educating society"

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