10,000 Gardens in Africa is an international project of Slow Food which aims to create 10,000 good, clean and fair gardens in African schools and communities, to provide platforms to teach young people about the importance of food biodiversity and give access to fresh and healthy food.
Slow Food’s African food gardens follow the philosophy of good, clean and fair.
10 Essentials for a Slow Garden
- They are created by a community.
The gardens bring together and value the capacities of all the community members uniting different generations and social groups (village or school associations, local administrators or non profit organizations). They recover the wisdom of older generations, make the most of the energy and creativity of younger people, and benefit from the skills of experts.
- They are based on observation.
Before planting a garden, it is necessary to learn to observe and to get to know the terrain, local varieties and water sources. The garden must be adapted to its surroundings, and local materials should be used to make fencing, compost bins and nurseries.
3. They do not need a large amount of space.
By looking creatively at the space available, it is possible to find somewhere to put a food garden in the most unlikely places: on a roof, by the side of a footpath and so on.
4. They are places of biodiversity.
Slow Food gardens are places for local biodiversity, which has adapted to the climate and terrain thanks to human selection. These nutritious and hardy varieties do not need chemical fertilizers and pesticides: vegetables, medicinal plants, culinary herbs and fruits trees.
5. They produce their own seeds.
Seeds are selected and reproduced by the communities. This means that every year the plants become stronger and better suited to the local area, and money does not need to be spent on buying packets of seeds.
6. They are cultivated using sustainable methods.
Natural remedies based on herbs, flowers or ash are used to combat harmful insects or diseases.
7. They save water.
Once again, an approach based on observation and creativity is fundamental. Sometimes it only takes a gutter, tank or cistern to collect rainwater to resolve seemingly insurmountable problems and avoid more expensive solutions.
8. They are open-air classrooms.
Food gardens offer an excellent opportunity for teaching adults and children alike about native plant varieties, promoting a healthy and varied diet, explaining how to avoid using chemicals and giving value to the craft of farmers.
9. They are useful, but also fun.
Food gardens are a simple and inexpensive way of providing healthy and nutritious food. But even in the most remote villages and the poorest schools, Slow Food gardens are also a place for games, celebrations and fun.
10. They are networked together. Neighboring gardens exchange seeds, while those further away exchange ideas and information. The coordinators meet, write to each other and collaborate. Collaborations between schools and Slow Food Communities from all over the world allows the creation of new gardens across the continent.
A food garden is a drop in the ocean compared to the problems Africa faces every day. But if the number of gardens grows from a hundred to a thousand to ten thousand, and they collaborate and support each other, their impact grows. Together, they can transform into a single voice, speaking out against land grabbing, GMOs and intensive agriculture, and in favor of traditional knowledge, sustainability and food sovereignty. And they can represent a hope for thousands of young people.
The 10 000 gardens project in South Africa is collaborating with Slow Plate and Chef's Alliance to incorporate Slow Food gardens in close proximity to Primary Schools and establish a network of school gardens.
The project entails a training and knowledge base system where gardens will be utilized to provide healthy, nutritious and balanced meals to primary school children within the framework of the National Feeding Program.
Children are educated on the importance of healthy living and the freedoms that is achieved by growing your own food. Because growing your own food makes you a hero!