The Veterinarian Technical Institute (VTI) is found in the northeast if Mikelenge, a town that sits to the west of Kindu, in Maniema province of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
The VTI is a sparsely frequented school: it has only 30 students and 12 professors. 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 garden project was joined by five families, with a total of ten children ranging in age from 13 to 20 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. The garden itself is 0.1 ha and has soil that is both sandy and loamy, with a part that is found in a swampy area.
The garden is found in an area 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 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 products found in the garden are: cassava, eggplant, majano, tomatoes and spinach. During the dry season the site is relocated, as water is found quite far away.
The members of the garden project work together with the students and everyone shares the harvest.
Mikelenge, Tokolote neighborhood, Brazza block, Maniema province