100 Days for 100 Gardens
The Terra Madre communities are currently tending 1,000 food gardens in schools, villages and cities, in 27 African countries. To date, 850 gardens have been adopted by donors and sponsors. But we are aiming higher and dreaming bigger: we now want to create 100 food gardens in Africa in 100 days. To meet this challenge, we need your support. Help Slow Food make its dream a reality!
100 days for 100 food gardens? One hundred days to collect €90,000 and create one hundred food gardens in Africa? Too many gardens? Too ambitious a sum? No: If we all come together to sow just a few euros each, we will be able to reap an extraordinary harvest., we will be able to reap an extraordinary harvest.
This is a shared project; also yours if you want to join in. Slow Food created it, but it can only grow thanks to you. Crowdfunding means we can only make a difference if we all come together to show that individual choices can lead to major collective changes, securing a better future for everyone.
We have always believed that ensuring good, clean and fair food means ensuring employment, development and peace, and a culture of living with dignity and well-being. If we were all farmers, we could barter the fruits of the land with each other. Although this is not the case, city-dwellers can still plant ‘seeds’ which will grow into food gardens in other parts of the world: our participation, our attention, our observation. And our financial support, small or large.
Why 100 Days?
There is a time and a place for every journey. Ours started in Bra, at the ninth edition of Cheese: an event close to our hearts, and an opportunity to meet old friends from all over the world. Our journey began on September 20, the day Cheese 2013 was inaugurated, and it will conclude on December 29. This is just enough time to tell you the story of the project, to inspire you and to convince you not just to participate, but also to share it on social media and talk about it with your friends over a coffee or a glass of wine. In a hundred days we can tell a huge number of people about our dream and convince many of them to help us make it a reality. With your help, anything is possible.
School gardens in Uganda/© Paola Viesi
"Crowdfunding means we will achieve something together. Helping people in Africa get back their right to food and food sovereignty. Africa represents a strategic observatory in which many of the pressures that are sending our planet into a crisis are concentrated: crops cultivated extensively for export, multinationals, urbanization. This is why it’s important that everyone who, like us, believes a different world is possible supports this initiative. Each one of us giving what she or he can. The amount doesn’t matter, it’s just important to be a part of it." Carlo Petrini - president of Slow Food
What You Can Do
1. Sow together with us: if you would like to donate, any amount would help the project grow. Even two euros make a difference. To thank you, we’ve come up with little “rewards” to give you a tangible sign of your participation. Look at the column on the right, and choose yours. Or you can donate any amount you like, and tell us if you don’t want anything in exchange. To pay, choose whatever method is easiest for you: debit or credit card, paypal or bank transfer.
2. Sow the seeds of awareness: if you believe in the project, tell people about it. It’s a simple and direct way to multiply the value of your contribution.
The African food garden in Turin/© Slow Food Archive
Discover the project:
Two years after the launch of the Thousand Gardens in Africa project, run by the Slow Food Foundation for Biodiversity, 1,000 food gardens have been created in 27 African countries, run by 50 coordinators and involving 30,000 people who are cultivating, watering and harvesting the gardens. These plots point the way towards a sustainable future, not imposed by the big international institutions, but conceived by the people who have the courage and the capacity to act to construct a richer, more beautiful and more participatory tomorrow.
We already have lots of individual stories to share. Here are some of our favorites:
MALI-MAURITANIA / A Vegetable Plot Amidst the Refugee Tents
In the desert of southeastern Mauritania, near the town of Bassikounou, just 60 kilometers from the border with Mali, lies the Mbera refugee camp. Along with the camps in Burkina Faso and Niger, in recent months Mbera has been receiving thousands of Malians fleeing from their country.
Almahdi Alansari—everyone calls him Himba—fled from Timbuktu with his family. An old friend of Slow Food, Himba was working with the producers from the Katta Pasta Presidium in Mali to coordinate the project. He couldn’t carry much with him from his homeland, but he did bring his wealth of experience and some seeds from Gao. Despite incredible hardships, he had not lost his spirit, and he began planting a small food garden next to his tent. He talked to the other women in the camp, and involved the men too. Today around 50 people are working with him. Many have started their own small food gardens, using traditional methods to cultivate seeds from northern Mali.
The refugee camp is not an easy place to grow vegetables: water is scarce, a constant wind blows up the sand, humidity is high and the mosquitos and birds are constant assailants. But the refugees, women, men and even children, who have been given their own small plots are working together, proudly growing a few seeds.
The gardens represent much more than sowing, watering, cultivating and harvesting: They have helped change people’s mentality, and the Malians have taken the first step towards recovering their traditional way of eating. Hopefully, their food sovereignty will not be completely lost.
KENYA / Gardens for Breakfast
In Kenya, families that are better-off often distinguish themselves by, among other things, what they eat for breakfast. Tea, for example, is considered to be modern and therefore more suited to a higher social class than something like porridge, the breakfast staple for most families.
Until a few years ago, the parents of pupils at the Michinda boarding school insisted that the canteen offered a breakfast based on tea; and they most certainly did not want their children getting their hands dirty in the school garden. In Kenya, as in many African countries, agriculture is considered the last resort for those who fail at school and work.
Starting to change this prejudice has taken the concerted efforts of a few passionate teachers at the school, who have been explaining to the children the importance of a balanced diet. A nutritionist was also brought in to prepare some local dishes with the pupils. Then lessons moved from the classroom to the garden. Shrewdly, the teachers only let the pupils with the highest grades help with the food growing as a reward for their hard work. The parents soon realized that a nutritious breakfast helped their children to concentrate in class and study, and that cultivating a food garden was a good way of teaching them how to make the right choices about their daily diet.
In June 2011, 60 African coordinators met in Nakuru, not far from Michinda, for a training seminar. They visited the school garden and the pupils showed off their compost bins and the seedbed where they have been experimenting with different ways of protecting the soil and the different varieties being grown. They arranged an array of products on a long table, presenting traditional techniques for preserving food: with honey, with salt, by cooling or by drying. The children proudly offered refreshments to the visitors, such as irio (a mix of mashed potatoes, corn, Russian comfrey, pumpkin leaves and nettles), chapati flatbreads and fruit juices.
School gardens in Uganda/© Paola Viesi
SOMALIA / Rebuilding a Country, One Garden at a Time
According to a recent ranking, Somalia is the most failed state in the world. Long years of anarchy, civil and tribal wars, banditry and natural disasters have devastated the East African country. Today’s Somalis face the difficult task of reconstructing a destroyed economy. Many have now realized that starting from agriculture is not only valuable, but also essential. The Lower Shabelle region, for example, could provide corn, legumes and oil to the whole country.
We have therefore been encouraging the creation of food gardens in Somalia, and raising awareness about their importance to diet and health. The Slow Food Foundation for Biodiversity has now started 15 food gardens in 15 villages in Somalia—eight family gardens and seven community gardens. No one is denying that this number is trivial compared to the number that should be created, but in Somalia practical models work much better than theory and teaching. Our hope is that in the coming years the gardens will multiply, contributing to the reconstruction of a country that has suffered so much over the past quarter of a century.
© Alberto Peroli