Michinda Primary School Garden, located in the town of Elburgon, Nakuru County, was started in 2005 with support from NECOFA (Network for Ecofarming in Africa), Slow Food Foundation for Biodiversity and Slow Food Central Rift Convivium. The quarter-acre garden it is cultivated by 50 of the school’s 400 students. The participating boys, between 10 to 14 years old, must apply to be part of the project. At first, the parents were reluctant for their children to be involved, believing garden work to be a form of punishment for students, but they quickly became enthusiastic and supportive upon seeing the success of the project.
The garden project includes: cultivation of crops such as spinach, kale, amaranth, Russian comfrey, carrots, cassava, sweet potatoes, bananas, sorghum and sugarcane; a school nursery with the plants used in the school or sold to the local community; manure of a range of animals – rabbits, chicken, geese, sheep and turkey – kept on school grounds used to fertilize the garden; diseases and pests controlled using plant-based extracts (stinging nettle, datura and Mexican Marigold etc.) where possible; crop rotation is practiced and the land is sometimes left bare for a season to regain its fertility; watering carried out two or three times a week, using school bore water; seeds selected and saved after harvesting for the next planting season.
The garden harvest is used to supplement the school-feeding program and any extra produce is sold to the community.
The students also learn to cook and preserve the food they grow, with a focus on learning ‘value adding’. Students have also participated in exchange visits with schools in their region and across the country. Michinda School Garden was awarded best school garden in Kenya in a competition by the Ministry of Agriculture.
The 4K Club
The four k’s of the 4K Club mean: Kuungana (unite), Kufanya (act together), Kusaida (help), Kenya.
Through the club the students do practical activities in the garden, learn the importance of making a conscious choice about quality food and learn to respect biodiversity. The activies show the students the sustainability of biological agriculture and help them develop organizational and leadership skills.
In 2010 the Ministry of Agriculture and the Ministry of Education awarded the students of Michinda for having the best 4-k club project in the country.
In their words…
"Participation in the school gardens project in no way harms scholastic achievement. On the contrary, our experience since 2005 has shown that of the 10 top students in the Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE), there are always 4 to 6 who have taken part in many school gardens project."
George Ng’ang’a, teacher at Michinda school
Michinda Boys primary school, Elburgon village, Molo district