On Friday, March 4, three Environmental Club students had the opportunity to visit the Ndera farm at Gardens for Health International (GHI), an organization that works to reduce childhood malnutrition through sustainable agriculture. Ezekiel (S6), Denys (S6), Deborah (S4) took a tour of the GHI farm with Danielle and Matt, members of GHI’s Communications and Agriculture Teams, ate a fantastic farm lunch, and had an agriculture Q&A with Matt, who is the GHI Agriculture Technical Manager.
Ezekiel, Denys, and Deborah wrote about what they learned during the visit:
“The farm’s purpose is mainly to help children with malnutrition by giving families different types of seeds to plant. The GHI headquarters are located at Ndera in the Gasabo District, but they have about 14 partner health centers in the Musanze District. GHI also has a lunch programme where citizens of that area can come to eat.
At GHI, they plant crops such as:
- Leguminous (Nitrogen-fixing) plants like umunyinya and dismodium
- Irish potatoes and orange sweet potatoes
- Nursery seed beds
They also have livestock including:
Danielle explained to us that the GHI Nutrition Programme, which gives the families the seed packets, includes some crops that are traditional for Rwandans and some that are less common, but more nutritious. They make sure that families will have food from four colored food groups on their plates for nutrition:
- Green: Dodo, isogo, cassava leaves, egg plants
- White: Cassava, maize
- Brown: Beans
- Orange: Orange sweet potatoes, mangoes, paw paw, tomatoes
We learned how to prevent malnutrition and under-nutrition by having all four food-groups in our meals.
Matt also showed us that they use agriculture methods that were new to us. At the Ndera farm, they use irrigation, grafting, and crop mixtures, and select the best crop to plant in an area according to the land. We learned how to prevent soil erosion by planting certain crops together, and conservation of soil fertility by planting leguminous crops, which put nitrogen back in the soil. They also explained how to best prepare land for cultivation, like no-till practices, and how to attract a bee colony by putting wax in the beehive after hanging it.
With this knowledge, we plan to tell our classmates and other Environmental Club members how to prevent soil erosion, maintain soil fertility, and eat more nutrients in our meals. Matt also gave us a seed packet for RLS, so hopefully we will be able to use what we learned in our own school garden!”
Thank you to Danielle, Matt, the kitchen staff, and everyone at GHI for having us!