School Gardens in Kenya: the preparation
In May, Nourish All traveled to Kenya to collaborate with the Kijana Global Innovation School, founded by Samantha's former high school teacher Jim Cummings. Samantha previously volunteered with Kijana in 2013 as an individual and was very excited to return nearly 10 years later with Nourish All. Prior to her arrival, Jim shared a newsletter with his Kijana network about the school garden collaboration project. Take a look below to read his inspiring and kind words.
Kijana - Nourish All Collaboration Project
Hi Friends, Hope you are well and enjoying Spring. Spring is the season that gives us new growth and blossoming energy. Students, teachers, and administrators are certainly demonstrating these qualities since returning to school from their break on April 25th. We have been adding students in the first week back, and expect continued growth in enrollment in the weeks ahead as the new school year begins. A new Kijana Global Innovation School school bus will also be arriving soon. It is under construction in Nairobi at present. May is shaping up to be an eventful month. Kijana is pleased to welcome Samantha Koches, a former student of mine at The Benjamin School, a previous volunteer for Kijana, in Kenya in 2013, and the founder of Nourish All, a non-profit dedicated to improving food access in vulnerable communities, to the Kijana Global Innovation School from May 6th to May 27th. Samantha will assist us in the culmination of the first year of our "Care, Share and Explore" program by advising on the pollinator garden and landscape design and partnering in building a stronger collaborative team, in developing a holistic and sustainable educational program with community connections. She brings a wealth of knowledge and perspective, having worked in a variety of settings, including Asia, west Africa, and most recently living and working in Hawaii. At the beginning of Easter weekend, Samantha organized a collaborative session linking individuals in Hawaii (herself), California (Ed Chandler), Florida (me), and Kenya (members of our Kenya team), to collectively design a preliminary plan for the school gardens. Our principal guide in the exercise was Ed Chandler, of Garden Creator Studio, of Sacramento, CA. Using the library/media center design plan developed by Harpreet Dhaliwal (another former student), Christopher Dameron, Jeremiah Awori and team members, we connected a team from three continents together for a strategy session to develop a preliminary plan (seen above). We are now armed with this plan, as we embark next week on further improving the beauty and natural environment of the school. The improvements will add not only to the aesthetics, but to the natural resource base, adding to community sustainability, and to the educational framework for the students. To date, our ongoing "Care, Share and Explore Program" has served as the main catalyst to fulfill Kijana's goal of providing both experiential environmental education opportunities and potential environmental sustainability solutions that empower youth, reshape communities, and transform lives. Nourish All is a nonprofit organization that embodies outstanding foundational principles and practices that overlap with Kijana. Click Nourish All to learn more. Below are details about our new partnership and the program that will be presented. We are proud of the collaborations we have built with Kijana, in developing a new institution. We are proving, by connecting with former students of mine and other board members, that education should not only be a life-long endeavor, but that we can join together, using learned skill sets and visions to create powerful and meaningful legacies.
Gratefully, James P. Cummings Founder and President
Design . Build . Teach . Integrate
Pictured above: Samantha Koches at the home of Welliminah Kutai in 2013
Samantha Koches of Nourish All will lead the three-week program. Nourish All Board Member Jessica Sun will also join her at times during the visit. Nourish All will also partner with Jenipher Nyangah of Shwari Permaculture Organization (Facebook page) and Days for Girls Organization (https://www.daysforgirls.org/); based in Butere, Kenya, as well as our Kijana School "Care, Share and Explore" Team members, led by Mercy Chepsuge and Prideluck Obaga. The program will focus on three areas: 1. Expand school gardens. 2. Host educational workshops. 3. Discuss how to integrate school gardens into the school's curriculum. Pictured above is a "Concept Garden Plan" that illustrates:
Creating a Pollinator Garden -- to be located just west of the future amphitheatre, along the tree-lined wall
Expanding the Kitchen Garden -- build raised beds, plant more food, and organize the composting area
Greening of the Playground Area -- plant fruit trees, perennials around the playground and lawn
In addition, four permaculture workshops are planned to take place at the school. The workshops are open to students, faculty, and the community. Ms. Koches will conduct one workshop on cooking and post-harvest processing. Three will be taught by the aforementioned local permaculture educator Jenipher Nyangah and her colleagues. They will visit the school and teach on topics like Soil Health, Plants, Composting, and Pollination.
Kijana Contact Information: Kijana Educational Empowerment Initiative 516 Gulf Road North Palm Beach, FL 33408 5613121968 http://www.kijana.org