In Togo, Everyone is Gardening!

An initiative launched in Togolese schools involving pupils’ parents has been welcomed with enthusiasm…

The Slow Food Togo Maritime Convivium, established in April 2014 in Lomè, Togo’s capital city, has launched 10 Slow Food gardens in 10 schools around the Maritime Region of Southern Togo. The initiative has been welcomed with enthusiasm by students, teachers and parents, particularly following the arrival of the hoes, hatchets, rakes, watering cans and wheelbarrows.

There is an air of excitement among the 10 schools involved in the project and, in some of them, the teachers have asked the parents – who have been eager to join in – for help in constructing fences, donating local seeds and sharing their knowledge.

Spinach, eggplants, wild lettuce, tomatoes, gnébé (beans), peanuts and other local vegetables are cultivated in the Slow Food gardens. In Togolese gardens you will also find tubers such as sweet potatoes, taro and cassava as well sugar cane, bananas, plantains, papaya, ginger, cucumbers, shallots, onions and traditional medicinal plants.

Canteen menus in primary schools in Togo are often enriched with products from vegetable gardens and feature dishes such as okra sauce, spinach and adémè (a vegetable with small green leaves) accompanied by a maize flour and sorghum paste. Bananas from the garden are usually eaten fried. Sweet potatoes are stewed and seasoned with red oil to make a traditional dish from Togo called bètèbètè, much appreciated by children.

The Convivium is now planning a survey of traditional recipes from around Togo, to create a recipe book promoting and protecting traditional Togolese cuisine. Among these recipes are wassa-wassa, traditional steam-cooked couscous made of dried yam flour, djongoli, a dish made of gnébé cooked in corn flour, yaka-yékè or corn based couscous.

After a few months of hard work, the results are starting to show in the 10 school gardens and even more schools and communities are asking to take part in the project. Good Luck!

Kokou H. Sotia
Slow Food Togo Maritime Convivium coordinator and journalist

Would you like to know where to find the gardens in Togo? Look for them on the map, nine have already been added!

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