The Agricultural Technical Institute’s (ITA) school garden is found in the northeast of Mikelenge, just a few meters from the Veterinarian Institute, on the side of the hill in the Brazza block of the Tokolote neighborhood. Mikelenge is to the west of Kindu, a city in the Maniema province in the center of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
ITA school has 180 students and 18 professors. The gardening activities are undertaken by ten families, for a total of 20 people, including students who range in age from 13 to 24 years old. As far as the site’s management is concerned, the garden has a president, a secretary and a treasurer, while the funds are managed collectively. Indeed, all of the members consult and decide upon the management of the money: 50% is paid to the school, where it is managed by the school committee; 30% is divided among the families; and the remaining 20% is reserved for the garden’s coordination efforts.
This 80 are garden is found on the side of a hill in an area that is dominated by soft-stemmed flora of secondary forest growth, with such plants as: imperata grass, Guinea grass, benth, sugar cane and papaya. All of these plants help to fertilize the soil as they decompose. As far as the climate is concerned, the garden is found in a tropical area that has two seasons: the rainy season lasts nine months and the dry seasons lasts three.
The garden has soil that is both sandy and loamy, with a part that is found in a swampy area.
The school is an authorized Protestant establishment under the 8th Community of Pentecostal Churches. This church has a community development branch and was founded in Bukavu in 1922, where the social headquarters is found, and arrived in Kindu in 1990 thanks to the efforts of Reverend Pastor Lukika. The school has been in contact with the President of the Ngo Action pour la Promotion Rurale, or APR, which is a non-profit organization. This group is associated with the platform known as “Integral Development Consultation Framework of Maniema” (whose acronym is CACODI-MANIEMA); beginning from the technical supervision of the Ngo CARS the association put the members of the garden in contact with Slow Food International.
Some of the crops grown in this garden include: sweet potatoes (which are grown both for the tuber and for their leaves), eggplants, amaranth and spinach. During the dry season water from the fish ponds is used to water the crops.
The members of the project work together with the students and they all share the harvest.
Commune de Mikelenge, Tokolote neighborhood, bloc Brazza, Maniema province