Gardens for Life - India & Kenya
Syngenta Foundation worked to promote sustainable development and global citizenship through local and international school garden partnerships.
- Gardens for Life (GFL) – an international initiative under the direction of the Eden Project in the UK – brought the joy of gardening and education about the origins of food to thousands of school children in India, Kenya, and England.
- In India, in partnership with the Centre for Development Education, the Syngenta Foundation funded the involvement of children from 20 schools in Mumbai and Pune.
- These schools had very little green space available, but were able to produce 10 to 12 varieties of vegetables, including tomatoes, aubergines, and okra, growing them in, for example, pots and old tyres and making use of small areas, such as rooftops.
- At a school in Mumbai, students and teachers discovered that after four months of trying to grow vegetables without success, the plants were failing due to pollution from vehicle exhaust. They moved the location of the garden and set up a campaign against vehicle pollution, which made national headlines. Students also exchanged experiences and learning resources with schools in England (Bristol, Cornwall, and Gloucestershire) and in the Rift Valley of Kenya, using the project as a prompt for debating on topical food issues.
The Syngenta Foundation is also a member of the GFL steering committee, led by Eden, with the UK’s Department for International Development; Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew; the Association for Science Education; UK Department for Education and Skills; and the Royal Horticultural Society. With plans under way for an extension of the program to more schools in more countries, the three-year pilot ended in 2007.
- In March that year, program partners and teachers from the schools held a conference to start planning the Garden for Life modules.
- The Foundation joined Eden Project’s Gardens for Life project. Starting with Kenya, India, and the UK, Gardens for Life set about creating a network of children and teachers to talk to each other about growing food.
- Schools in England, Kenya and India adopted the program, which could be modified to meet local needs and cultures.
- Some 19,000 students used hands-on experiences in school gardens to learn a variety of subjects, like biology, art, and mathematics, in a global context.
- The curriculum was developed for both primary and secondary grades by Science Across the World; the Royal Horticultural Society; Royal Botanical Gardens, Kew; and the Eden Project.
- An evaluation carried out by the University of Exeter found that many students in the project had higher self-esteem, improved academic performance, and an understanding of the natural world.
- The Syngenta Foundation sponsorship helped the school program in India. Links to the science curriculum were strongest in India, where children grew gardens in constrained urban settings. Students were aware of how different soils and weather conditions affect plant growth. “We must know the perfect place in which the plant can get the right amounts of sunlight and shade," said one student.
- At Pune, Syngenta India helped the program by providing horticultural training to teachers, and flower and vegetable seedlings for children to plant at school.
- “The students,” says a teacher in Kenya, “are now more eager to hear and read about other countries."
- Gardening has also been the basis for strengthening links with parents and the community.