Lesley Stephenson and Thomas Baumann made it back to Switzerland just before the Easter Bunny after organizing and participating in two special training workshops in our project sites in Hagereselam and Mohoni.
The workshops introduced participant groups to the ‘Permagarden’ concept designed by US Global Nutrition Garden Training Specialist Peter Jensen who has worked throughout Africa for the past 20+ years in agricultural projects addressing the challenges of climate change. Peter Jensen developed the PermaGarden method over ten years ago, and has since trained hundreds of groups throughout Ethiopia and other African countries in this effective method. By applying special garden-protection techniques to deal with the management of excess water in the wet season, as well as unique digging techniques and soil enrichment procedures, Peter helps his participants ensure that the quality of their gardens and the food they grow is far beyond that which can be expected from most ‘normal’ gardens.
In Mohoni, the training was attended by teachers and parents from 6 different schools, and these participants now have the mandate to create a Permagarden in each of their own schools. As at Lemlem Baro, the produce from the gardens will be used exclusively to raise resources to cover school maintenance costs. Teachers are also expected to use their school gardens as teaching models for their wider school communities. The teachers and parents were thrilled with the training, which they described as ‘our best training ever’.
Peter Jensen, creator of the PermaGarden concept, is an internationally recognised acute climate change and nutritional garden expert. He has worked all over Africa, and now lives in Ethiopia. Lesley met him in Ethiopia 4 years ago and has since linked him to our project partners in Hagereselam and to the schools in Raya.
A bare site at the back of Lemlem Baro School was selected for the Permagarden site.
Teachers and community members from six schools attended the training.
2 1/2 days of hard work was expected from the participants, theory and mainly practical work. Participants learned the crucial advantages of ‘double digging’ the gardens which means that the gardens require far less watering, a huge benefit in drought-prone Tigray.
The completed garden has been planted with beans until the wet season begins. Then maize, pumpkin, and other vegetables which require more rain will be planted. The garden is dug and designed to allow water to be held at its corners, and to flow off in other areas. In other words, the form of the garden manages the rainfall.