This 500 m2 Slow Food garden is found in Rabat, capital of Morocco as well as the capital of the Rabat-Salé-Kenitra region. The city is found on the Atlantic coast and on the left bank to the south of the mouth of the Bouregreg River. Abderrahmane Ben Awf is a primary school who students range in age from six to twelve years old. The school has an incredibly active environmental association that has managed to transform an unused piece of land into a beautiful garden that is available to all of the classes. Despite a difficult start-up, as the students’ parents still didn’t understand the advantages of the project and were therefore opposed to the idea of their children working the land and separating rubbish, thanks to the firm belief of the project’s importance on the part of the director and lead teacher, the results have been extraordinary. Indeed, the director explains that “given the current environmental problems and the absence of any sort of initiative on the parents’ part as per environmental education, it is our duty to fully take on our role in this area”. The qualitative approach to Slow Food’s project has been a deciding factor in the success of this experience. Indeed, Slow Food holds that gardening is an activity that must go towards safeguarding biodiversity, water sources and the landscape, and that the execution of school projects centered on a garden can be the engine that leads to the development and implementation of practices that are respectful of the environment. The goals of the creation of this garden are as follows: educate the local population by encouraging the children to become active participants in their local environment, develop a sense of responsibility and respect for the place in which we live, create a link between the students and the earth and, in a broader way which includes locals of all ages, to bring children physically and personally closer to nature. Traditional and sustainable techniques are used to maintain the soil’s fertility, in particular composting, mixed cropping and crop rotation and the practice of two separate planting seasons. Mulching is also used here, a technique that involves covering the soil with organic materials and minerals in order to nourish and protect it. This practice helps to conserve the water supply in the soil and to avoid the growth of weeds. Indeed, working the top soil helps to improve the circulation of water all the way to the plants’ roots. The crops planted here are local varieties: carrots, eggplant, green peppers, radishes, tomatoes, zucchini, cabbage, cucumbers and onions. There are also spices and medicinal plants in the garden, like mint, oregano, celery, lavender and thyme, which are useful in fighting off pests. There are also other natural methods in use to keep pests away, like a solution of alcohol and soap, a tobacco infusion, and insecticides made from garlic, oil and soap. The garden’s produce is used to prepare some of the food in the school’s cafeteria, thus achieving the principle of food that arrives “from the fields to the table”.
Rabat, Capital of Rabat-Salé-Kenitra