This 40m2 school garden is found in the Zear region, in Ain Aouda, a town about 30 km away from the capital city Rabat. The school has about 965 students, a director and 25 teachers (21 of whom are women), but the environmental and development club in charge of cultivating the garden counts about 75 students. The garden is managed by a committee made up of teachers, students, and a few members of the parent’s association which comes together once a week. The students use the garden to learn, as gardening is a learning activity, and thus the garden act as a teaching tool that is often used by the professors to illustrate various points in their lessons. Some of the courses that make use of the garden are: life sciences, geography, mathematics; the garden allows these teachers to teach in a more tangible way, as the majority of students are the children of peasant who are often forced by poverty to leave their lands and find jobs as laborers. The garden also helps to improve the ability to identify different fruits and vegetables which leads to a greater consumption thereof.
The garden draws on traditional farming techniques. Different crops are cultivated in the garden, quite often local varieties; the seeds and plants are bought at the weekly market that takes place in Ain Aouda, which is an extremely important place in Moroccan life.
Among the vegetables grown here, of note are: eggplant, radishes, tomatoes, and zucchini, which are cultivated in full respect of the principles of associated farming and crop rotation. These plants are often surrounded by medicinal plants and herbs (like basil, celery, lavender, stéchas lavender, mint, oregano, marjoram, etc.). After the harvest, the fruits and vegetables are used to prepare salads or specific dishes. For example, a Moroccan salad can be made with the following ingredients: three tomatoes, two grilled green bell peppers that have been washed and cut into small pieces, one onion, parsley, and coriander, two teaspoons of olive oil, one of lemon juice, a bit of salt and pepper, and a dash of cumin.
The garden’s soil is fertilized with manure and compost, while all natural methods are used to fight pests, like: rubbing alcohol mixed with liquid soap (one liter of water, two ml of liquid soap, and 20 ml of rubbing alcohol), or tobacco which is quite effective to keep parasites away (100 grams of tobacco are ground and steeped in one liter of water for 24 hours, filtered, and then another liter of water is added which is then sprayed over the plants). There is also an insecticide made from garlic (one liter of boiling water is poured of four crushed garlic cloves, covered and let sit for one hour, filtered, and once cooled it is sprayed over the plants without any further dilution), and one made with oil and soap (one liter of water, 15 ml of vegetable oil, and 15 ml of organic liquid soap).
The children must obey the following rules: walk in the paths, not on the plants; help when there is lots of work to do; don’t leave tools on the paths; clean the equipment and leave it in the right place; wash the vegetables, and then your hands.
Ain Aouda, Zear region