An inspiring sign, Revitalizing School Gardens for Sustainable Food and Nutrition Security, Income Earning and for Healthy Ecosystems and learning through Youth Volunteerism in Samoa
APIA: MONDAY 25 MAY 2015: An organic vegetable garden project was officially launched in Poutasi & Saleilua Primary School last Friday 22nd May, 2015 in Falealili District by the United Nations Volunteers (UNV) agency and the United Nations Development Programme. The launching of the initiative was blessed by Bishop Tafaoga Fepuleai of Saleilua.
Amongst the guests present were the village matais, the youth of Falealili as well as the students and parents of the school. This initiative was a contribution to an alarming rate of Non Communicable Diseases (NCDs), obesity and malnutrition of children. While changing the diet of Samoan people is a huge challenge, introducing a healthy diet through gardening in a community will be one of the most effective methods to educate people.
Alternatively, with reference to the 2012 UN World Population Prospect, Samoa has a youthful population of 18.3% of the total between the ages of 15 – 25 years.
In addressing the impact of unemployed youth in Samoa, UNV through their Youth Volunteer Strategy 2014 – 2017 was adapted to support and promote youth volunteering. This is achieved through enabling mechanisms for involving young people in all project processes, supporting youth volunteerism by responding to the expectations of youth, and consolidating evidence on youth volunteering in programme development and design.
Volunteerism is a way to contribute to the youth development, as well as personal growth through their engagement in the societies. Gardening through volunteerism will teach participants science education, a healthy diet and life skills. Moreover, it will contribute to environmental sustainability and community resilience at time of food security.
Promoting a healthy diet through gardening by young volunteers from the school and the village youth, will address both issues about NCDs and youth unemployment. The project creates a strong linkage to the United Nations Development Assistance Framework for the Pacific Region 2013 -2017 where outcome 3.1 focuses on inclusive economic growth, poverty, sustainable employment, and increased livelihood opportunities and food security explained for women, youth and vulnerable groups.
Samoa like any other Pacific island country has limited land for large scale agricultural production. Samoa is isolated from many other countries in the world where food importation is costly. In order to overcome these constraints, it is important to secure food within the country through small scale agriculture. At the community level, gardens are ideal to achieve food security, sustainability and help improve community resilience.
The project is twofold: first to contribute to the provision of nutritious food; secondly, to foster youth volunteerism in the village of Poutasi & Saleilua where most youth are unemployed. Overall, gardening in the school can lead to enhancing food security and fostering a lasting quality of life from community members. It will also help the school by safeguarding long term environmental sustainability by growing fresh and organic fruits and vegetables. There are nine objectives to be achieved with this project:
- To establish the positive perception of school gardening among the teachers, students and parents as a solution to NCDs and youth unemployment.
- To demonstrate the benefits of school gardening and volunteerism including skills gained and the processes of how such benefits are shared within the school and in the community.
- To promote gardening in primary schools in Samoa through providing volunteer opportunities to community members, particularly the youth.
- To promote ecosystem to the school children, and at the same time teachers can conduct live ecosystem classes in the garden.
- To promote a healthy food lifestyle for the children and community, by planting more vegetables, and supply to the canteen.
- Providing children with hands –on experience in food production, ecology and natural resource management and increasing children’ s knowledge of nutrition.
- Improving household nutrition and food security in the home, benefiting the whole family by replicating school garden techniques at home.
- Improving the nutrition value of school meals by supplementing them with food rich in micronutrients, fresh from the school garden.
- To integrate the school garden into the school curriculum for learning
Saumaleava Alapati, the principal of Poutasi & Saleilua Primary School feels inspired by the work so far with the garden.
“It is a great lesson for our pupils so when they go home, they will tell their parents about what we are talking about today, so that they can grow their own vegetable gardens and show their families how to plant the vegetables and fruits inside it.”
The garden is an exciting start for the school and its quest to safeguard the community against future issues with food security and nutrition.