EEP 2021: Setting up an Organic Garden (Progress Report)

Strong Tower School student team are quite pleased to be participating in the ISNAD-Africa’s Environmental Education Programme (EEP) and for the project, we decided on growing an Organic Garden. The decision to embark on this project was as a result of critical evaluation of the bad shape of the soil and environment around us. We identified the harm and detrimental effects chemicals from pesticides, herbicides etc., have on the soil and also the environment, and thus, concluded that organic gardening (gardening without man-made chemicals) instead of synthetic ingredients would be more beneficial to the soil and help on the long run.

We are a team of 8: comprising of three male and three female – students, a supporting teacher and one coordinating teacher.

Our Activities so Far

At the start of the project, we were hoping to make use of the school’s extra piece of land but decided against it due to the proximity of the land to the main structure and thus decided to make use of a piece of land in the school compound. The piece of land was not advisable to be used as it was absolutely not suitable for planting but the more challenge seem, the more evident and significant the result of the project was going to be; hence the plot was decided upon.

The land was polluted with all sort of material such as nylon, clothes, sacks, bottles etc., so the students had to clear out the waste and trash on the land, after this, to make beddings for planting, the soil should be tilled but because of the type of soil and the season, the students could not do anything as it required an expert and a stronger force to help till the ground so we had to seek external labor to till the ground. Upon tillage, a new batch of waste and inorganic material had surfaced with large stones, the students had to start over with clearing the land, raking out and picking out substances harmful or substances that would hinder the growth of the garden.

The type of soil on the land does not support planting and because of this, the students had to sort for loamy soil which should have been easy but wasn’t because of the season (dry season), farmers and vendors of loamy soil hoard the little they have or sell at ridiculous price.

We bought enough loamy soil to mitigate the harsh condition of the soil and make it more suitable for planting, while sourcing for loamy soil, we were also sourcing for compost manure which was relatively easy to get as a goat market and abattoir was close to the school. Collected dung will serve as compost manure for the vegetable and also flowers.

Vegetables were planted first as the seeds had been gotten earlier and it is quite easy to plant, we had also made a trip down to a horticulturist first to make enquiries about the type of flowers and ones with traits and characteristics we were interested in.

Because of the interaction and assignment given to the student teams, certain types of vegetables were decided on to be planted too to reinforce the idea of organic garden helping with food security.

Figure 1:- The student team on the proposed land before any activity

Figure 2:- The proposed land after it had been tilled

The following are the proposed plants for the garden:

  1.  Corchurus Olitorious L (Jute): – Jute, locally and popularly called ewedu in the yoruba tribe is a natural fiber, it has many inherent advantages, both nutritional and for the environment. It is a biodegradable and eco-friendly, below are some of its advantages on the environment;
    • Jute Plant purifies the air: -Jute plants absorb carbon dioxide (Co2) from and emit Oxygen (O2) to the air which causes the purification of the air. The jute plants absorb average 7302.38 thousand tones CO2 from and emit 5309.91 tones O2 to the air per year..
    • Fertility of land: -The fallen leaves and roots of the jute plant are rotten in the land which increases the fertility of the land. This increases the fertility of land by giving Urea, TSP, MP, Zipsam, Dolomite, Ferrous Sulfate, Magnesium Sulfate, Zink sulfate to the soil..
  2.  Trifolium pratense, red clover: – the red clover is an extremely drought-resistant plant and will keep its cool-green color and thrive even intense heat with and very little availability of water. Being a legume, the clover plant fixes poor soil, it has the ability to convert nitrogen into fertilizer using bacteria in its root system, practically eliminating the need for additional fertilization. While its flowers create beautiful scenery, they also bring in bees, butterflies, and beneficial insects that prey on garden pests and also aid with pollination.
  3. Amaranthus Hybridus (Spinach): – locally called “efo”, this plant can survive in tough conditions. It is really with no stress while planting, it has increased efficiency to use CO2 under a wide range of both temperature and moisture stress environments to produce O2 which contributes to the plant’s adaptability.

Other Flowers such as Green bush, Grotin and yellow and green Duranta were decided on after the visit to the horticulturist, we were interested in flowers that can survive the present harsh conditions; less rainfall and heat. In addition, flowers that will act as habitant or attract pollination agents and as a result encourage pollination.

Flowers such as the ‘Yellow and Green Duranta’ produce spines and thorns which fend of pests and help with pest control.

Our team was assigned an Advisor for our project, Professor Igbatayo an agricultural economist from Nigeria. Having Prof. has been very helpful with the project and also it has helped us discover the novelty of our project, a notable example was while discussing with the team at the initial meeting, he mentioned the benefit of Organic Farming/Agriculture and in the course of the meeting and gave us an assignment. The assignment was “How an Organic Garden Contribute to Environmental Sustainability and Also Ensure Food Security”.

While trying to answer this question, we came across the idea of Organic Garden helping with food security and decided to test it out, hence why we have about two to three beds of vegetables in the garden, basically to actualize the researched benefit of Organic Garden on food security.

Our engagements with Professor Samuel Igbatayo has given us more vigor and sense of responsibility towards the project as we discuss weekly with the professor about our activities on the farm. He always inspires us to do more.

Figure 3:- The progress of the garden

Figure 4:- An overview of the garden

To Do

Much as we are half way into the project, this point tends to be critical in the sense of maintenance of the garden. Further steps to be taken include: –

  1.  Planting: – we haven’t been able to find a source for the red clover but was promised by an horticulturist to get it for us on the 19th of April. Hence we still need to plant red clover and also replace some of the flowers that didn’t survive.
  2. Rabbit Farm: – though not part of the initial plan, a question came from one of the students to Professor Igbatayo, as to if farm animals can be introduced into the garden basically to further create an ideal ecosystem, the Professor affirmed and explained further how it will contribute to the garden and also sustainability hence the inclusion of a rabbit farm into the garden.
  3. Applying a different type of organic manure to help with the growth of both vegetables and flowers.

Below are links to social media post the school and some of the students made in the process of implementation of the garden.