One of the last projects to complete the wrap up of the current funding from the Rotary Club of Sorrento, Australia is to set up a vegetable garden that will provide the school with nutritious vegetables to give to the children to supplement their poor diets.
Having almost completed this first but very large phase of the development plan, the borehole has been fixed and money has been raised to implement a solar system which will provide the borehole with a pump to pump water into a 10,000 L holding tank – the solar set up will also provide power to the school and teachers accommodation which will in itself transform this community.
We are hoping to have the solar set up installed by the beginning of September this year, so in expectation of that, the school started setting up the vegetable garden so it is prepared and ready for when the water will be pumping.
Originally we had agreed on doing the vegetable garden in a 15 x 15 meter area, and when I arrived at Mambanje school with my good friend and garden expert Lance Edwards, the community had prepared a space of 45 x 100 meters. Having always loved people who dream big, I did not want to dampen anyone’s spirit, however we found that the site was over 400 meters from the school and had an uphill gradient, meaning that once again one would have to pump the water to the garden, something that has not been budgeted for at this stage and carrying the 2000L per day a garden of this size would need did not appeal to anyone.
As the school is itself on a high point, we looked at areas lower than the school and actually found the perfect space of 60m x 20m right between the borehole and the tank next to the school. This will make the garden very visible accessible to the school children who will tend it as a part of their daily curriculum and it will also provide protection from the elephants which roam this area, the school being just 2km from the National Park Boundary.
The community all agreed to the new location and offloading of the materials and clearing of the space soon began. Since the soil is fairly rocky, Lance recommended making raised beds which he demonstrated would be prepared with rich soil, manure and grass.
Using the rocks from the area to our advantage, everyone got involved in collecting the rocks to build the sides of the beds and men and women alike dig the soil to preparethe beds.
The women had come with material to make compost, manure, leaves and grass which Lance explained how to use to make the beds as fertile as possible.
The community now have 4 weeks to continue preparing the beds and we will put in the fence when the solar team goes out to Mambanbje to set up the solar panels and put in the pump and electricity in the buildings.
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