It hasn’t rained in Gikambura area for weeks, yet the young farmers club garden at Gikambura primary school is flourishing. Vegetables and fruit trees are blooming, green as emerald. You could spot them right outside the fenced garden.
Ring! Ring! Ring!
The 3p.m bell rings at Gikambura primary school. Grade 1 to 4 students run towards the tap area, close to the tree nursery with watering cans to fetch water. They make a very organized queue as the young farmers club teacher Mr. Paul Njoroge opens the small gate leading to the garden area.
Frigoken Ltd. (FKL) has been nurturing young students in schools within their project areas on farming and sustainability. FKL provides both the resources and the training needed for the students to equip them with both environmental and agricultural knowledge.
In 2021, FKL in partnership with Miti alliance set up a Young Farmers Project to empower the students at Gikambura. The goal was to create a culture where the next generation can learn about environmental sustainability and garner climate-smart agricultural skills. The project was launched during World Environment Day on the 5th of June 2021. Students, teachers, and the sustainability team from FKL helped clean and demarcate the tree nursery with eco-bricks donated by Premier Foods Limited.
‘‘The school established a kitchen garden to grow kale, spinach, herbs, and fruit trees. To ensure proper water management because of the water challenge in the area, drip irrigation kits were put in place. A tree nursery targeting to grow 5,000+ indigenous seedlings was also established. This project was able to reach 900 students (470 girls, 430 boys) from grades 1-8 with a special focus on grades 1 to 4 who are under the Competence-Based Curriculum (CBC),’’ says Elizabeth the Sustainability coordinator at Frigoken.
Elizabeth added that CBC made the project even more interesting because there are environmental studies lessons, which enabled students from every grade to be part of this initiative practically.
‘‘This project has helped me understand agriculture in class and it has also helped our environmental club grow. I have also learnt, how to prepare a seed bed, drip and bottle irrigation and the benefits, tree growing and various tree species and their benefits, soil conservation, mulching, and land preparation. We have also been taught how to make eco-bricks by recycling plastic bottles. Agriculture is fun and I would like to be a farmer when am older.’’ Says George Waweru a grade 6 student at Gikambura primary school.
‘‘Initially, the environmental club students were the only ones interested in farming, but since Frigoken launched the project, students in the various grades can practice what they have learned in the environmental class. The students are more enthusiastic about farming activities and it is something they look forward to every day.’’ Mr. Paul Njoroge, the environmental studies teacher and head of the young farmers club stated.
According to Michael Waiyaki from Miti Alliance, the opportunity to create a sustainable impact in the community is greatly available in schools, as has been the case here at Gikambura Primary. The project has provided a dynamic shift in how the students and the teachers view agriculture and environmental conservation. The knowledge transferred to students also impacted their families directly he added.
Michael also highlighted that there have been over 20 training sessions focusing on watering, crop care, weeding, land preparation, soil mixing, tree nursery establishment, vertical garden setup, drip kit installation, weeding, soil potting, and mulching.
Currently, the program is self-sufficient and sustainable as the students use the vegetables they harvested for their school feeding program and sell the surplus to ensure project continuity.