Helping African Agriculture, One Garden At A Time

Finding a backyard with a garden can be a blessing and often a rarity for many homeowners in the United States. However, take a gander over to Africa and not only will you see things in a different light but you will find one of the biggest and newest initiatives taking place in the Western Hemisphere. "A Thousand Gardens in Africa," is the latest from the Slow Food Movement and the plan is, in itself, self-explanatory. The mission: to build 1,000 gardens in 26 different countries throughout Africa.

Slow Food USA, the national non-profit organization dedicated to the slow food movement is teaming up with Slow Food International to carry out this enormous project. Throughout different countries in the Terre Madre region, including Kenya, Uganda, Senegal, Tanzania, Ethiopia and Morocco, Slow Food International advocates are working on building three different garden models in various African communities and villages.

The first are school gardens which will be cultivated by students together in tandem with their teachers. Second are community gardens and finally, family gardens, groups of gardens managed by single families in their respected communities. The desire is that, by building these gardens there will be a cultivation of local and sustainable food, crops, vegetables and even medicinal herbs. Additionally, the promotion of seed exchange in communities will hopefully result in agricultural autonomy with farmers' crops throughout different villages.

However, those involved with the Slow Food Movement also hope the gardens will bring awareness to all communities; awareness about not only eating healthy food but about the importance of sustainability in all agriculture. Josh Viertel, the president of Slow Food USA, emphasizes the impact these gardens will have on community members, "We need solutions that give people the resources they need to feed themselves," he said.

Each individual garden costs approximately $1,300 to build. Projects are currently being tackled in Denver, Chicago, New York City and in particular, Florida, where the volunteer-run organization engaged more than 150,000 children to help build 63 gardens in 44 days.

"By supporting A Thousand Gardens in Africa, one isn't just supplying the materials necessary to set up a garden and guaranteeing a daily supply of fresh and healthy food ... they're encouraging young people to be farmers," said Paolo di Croce, the executive director of Slow Food International. "And that's a very special thing."

Any donation supports the initiative. To learn more about A Thousand Garden in Africa, click here.

Photo: Oxfam International

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