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Veggication - Communal vegetable planting education scheme to give children the opportunity to learn about their individual influences, secure food supplies, and strengthen family ties.

The communal vegetable planting education scheme gives children the opportunity to explore bio environment, develop their motor skills and moral (responsibility) characteristics, as well as strengthening family ties through taking care of the plants with the help of parents. By involving children in our community program, we help them develop a sense that they are able to build the world around them by themselves, instead of waiting for someone else to do so. The project is aimed to help children grow up with an awareness of their skills and how these can be utilized to create their own future.

Photo of Sirasit L.
23 20

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This contribution implements several findings of the research stage to ensure creativity, learning, and nutrition in the early stages of the childhood:

Creativity
Whether it is building a store out of old card boxes, designing a shopping card that is more tailored to young parents or finding a solution to address issues of low-income communities, creativity most commonly involves numerous components such as imagination, originality, productivity, and/or problem solving (National Foundation for Educational Research, 2004). While elaborateness of these components will develop throughout a person’s life in one way or the other, the foundation and degree of development can be influenced in early stages of children’s lives (Runco, 1996). One way to foster creativity can be through creative play and playful learning. Thus, by giving children the opportunity to spend time in creative environments while learning and solving problems such as ‘in what can we plant this crops?’ may facilitate creative thinking.
 
 
Playful learning
Giving children and parents guidance of an expert teacher or farming ambassador and let them participate in a community program to explore the richness and fun of planting and farming.
 
Nutrition
In the early stages of children’s lives, parents have the responsibility to ensure that their children are well fed and practice a healthy diet. However, oftentimes it is the case that due to the lack of resources, children’s diet is very monotonous and lacks diversity. Through introducing children to planting and farming their own vegetables in early stages of their lives in a playful way, they can start contributing to and expanding the availability of fresh fruits and vegetables for themselves and their community.
 
Community
When parents are working and trying to secure income, food and survival, children in low-income communities oftentimes lack parental engagement, guidance and contact. In such cases, it is up to siblings, grandparents or the community to bring up the younger members of the family. To maintain a positive and vital relationship between parents and children, they both increase their engagement hours while collectively contributing towards food security. By doing so with other parents and their children, the whole community can benefit not only from personal insights into farming or planting techniques, but also from exchanging personal success stories or particularly fruitful approaches to how to parent. In addition to that, the veggication program leader can play a great role in influencing the participants, both young and old. Our program is designed to determining socially respected and influential people within communities and partnering up with those as to attract many families to engage.
 
Through implementing the Veggication program, we can support children with opportunities to explore creativity, playful learning and knowledge about issues related to farming such as plant anatomy, how to plant, best times and conditions for planting, and pollination.  By making this a social process, children can learn from both parents and other children from the community. Having this in collective activity in place, children get to know about others’ success in planting and can be encouraged to do so themselves. Additionally, the sense of being able to plant, taking care of and nurture plants, and successfully harvest them can be transferred to other areas of life such as forming and knowing one's ability to achieve desired outcomes. This can have a particular impact on educational achievements at a later stage of the childhood.

We invite a children in families from different communities to take part in vegetables planting process, they are going to learn, We provide different types of seeds to children and hand out printed materials to explain the process of growing and familiarise children with the vocabulary of planting. The focus is to encourage the development of memory, communication, and motor skills. Eventually, when vegetables are fully grown, they can be eaten or sold to local communities.

As a side effect, the community will gain greater awareness about new vegetables and herbs, which could be grown in their region and could promote a healthier lifestyle. We assume that children will be willing to eat these vegetables, as they were candies. Since these plants are new for kids and they have put so much effort in growing them, it should make veggies like broccoli desirable for kids to try.

We believe this is a simple program. It helps children to explore the world around them, which is the most important things for kids at this age. This project does not require lot of resources, apart from seeds, tools and volunteers and local partners.

We can ask the communities about …
  • their expectation about their children`s future.
  • the time they spend playing with their children.
  • common family activities.
  • parents’ daily routines in the local community.

Who will benefit from this idea and where are they located?

Our idea is designed for children of the age between 3-5, living in low-income communities in developing countries. However, the program should also be made available for older kids up to the age of seven. From interacting with other children and adults, smaller children can draw on and learn from the knowledge of others. Our targeted country is Kenya. This country is a famous green bean exporter at the European market, which means the area is favorable for vegetable growing and we can find sponsors among green bean producers, which are incentivized to strengthen their reputation both on a national and international level. Furthermore, it can be rolled out in both rural and urban areas. Depending on the region, different farming solutions have to be applied. While in rural areas space and soil are a minor issue, urban areas call for alternative farming solutions. The concept of Sack gardening as introduced by Solidarites (solidarities.org) could be used for the urban areas. Here, no agricultural land is required because the crops are directly planted into sacks filled with soil.

How could you test this idea in a quick and low-cost way right now?

The idea testing can be twofold: Firstly, to evaluate the rate of success of our idea, research of previous success stories and cases in similar environments can be carried out. Secondly, we can engage with university volunteer societies and set up a pilot project, which puts our idea into action in a cheap way. In this way we can draw on the resources of already established charities, which can utilize our idea. Having volunteers in Kenya allows us to collect feedback directly from the source to enhance our plans to support low-income communities.

What kind of help would you need to make your idea real?

We need different resources to realize our idea. First of all, we need people which are willing to offer their help. These can be mostly volunteers and local partners who administer and take ownership of the projects. Secondly, depending on the local premises, we need either a piece of land or a small section where we can build the Sack garden. Thirdly, we need the soil, seeds, tools and water to grow vegetables. Fourthly, we require monetary support which could be secured through big companies (especially from garden industry), crowd-sourcing. Awareness of our program in communities where it should be introduced can be created through leaflets, flyers, banners and announcements, while awareness about our initiative in the developed world can be reached by communication through social media and fundraising events.

Is this an idea that you or your organization would like to take forward?

  • Yes. I am looking for partners that might be interested in taking this idea forward in their communities.

23 comments

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Photo of An Old Friend
Team

Sirasit, I like the idea of instilling the culture of vegetable production to children while still young. I think this is in line with Racheal's My Clean Little Hands: https://openideo.com/challenge/zero-to-five/ideas/my-clean-little-hands-my-health-insurance-for-life

I know you will obtain more specific information from your discussions with parents but from our discussions with leaders here in Uganda I think it would be good to involve parents and leaders in this idea. Ultimately they are the ones who determine if their children should participate or not.

I am also wondering where you could get the land for demonstration in poor urban communities?

Photo of Anne-Laure Fayard
Team

Hi Sirasit, like Alex I like the idea, in particular as it not only have an educational role but a nutritional impact (for the children and their family) and even more broadly it can contribute to food security.
I've done a small search on the topic. Check it out:

http://designinghealthycommunities.org/role-community-gardens-sustaining-healthy-communities/

http://www.rjoas.com/issue-2013-01/i013_article_2013_02.pdf

http://truth-out.org/progressivepicks/item/686

http://www.ipsnews.net/2008/12/south-africa-community-gardens-contribute-to-food-security/

These 2 have an educational aspect:
http://www.footprintsnetwork.org/project/68/Community-food-gardens-KwaZulu-Natal.aspx

http://www.gardenafrica.org.uk/

see in particular:
http://www.gardenafrica.org.uk/education-skills

Photo of Anne-Laure Fayard
Team

Hi again, you might also want to check (and build upon) these 3 ideas:
https://openideo.com/challenge/zero-to-five/ideas/community-building-and-growing-your-own-food
https://openideo.com/challenge/zero-to-five/research/sack-gardening-micro-farms-provide-nutrition-in-kenyan-slums
https://openideo.com/challenge/zero-to-five/research/nutrition-kit-for-tiny-tots-from-your-backyard

Photo of John Smith
Team

Hi Sirasit. Really exciting idea!

But I think maybe a few kids under 5 years old can do this vegetable planting.
They could not be strong enough to handle those farming tools and they may hurt themselves by abusing tools.

Photo of Chioma Ume
Team

Hi Sirasit! You might also be interested in checking out this project in Ghana https://openideo.com/challenge/zero-to-five/ideas/the-full-service-urban-children-s-park - I see some similarities in considering possibilities for using the natural world to educate families and build community!

Photo of Lulu Ng
Team

Hi Chioma! I think your idea of making most of the park for the children is great! Besides, it is also fantastic to try every way to make a child-friendly environment for them, especially the naming of trees by the children themselves! Indeed, I think there are many similarities between our projects, and your idea is helpful! Thank you!

Photo of Lulu Ng
Team

Hi, Anne-Laure Fayard. I think your links to other ideas are really useful! There are many similarities for these projects including ours and these projects have provided a lot of valuable information from which we can learn a lot. Thank you for your advise!

Photo of Nataliia Pavlovskaia
Team

Hey, Alex! As for getting the land for demonstration in poor urban communities we considered several options. 1) For the place, where to test our project we chose Kenya. There are famous green bean exporters located and we can source help from them. Being social responsible for the big companies, especially operating in Europe is quite important. So, we think they could be interested in participating in the project and providing us with soil, land and maybe seeds. 2) We can ask local government and communities for initial investments as well as charity funds, operating in the area.
Actually, the issue of sourcing resources in a poor area is difficult, but this is a great challenge to find a good solution for that. We will continue investigating this issue among the team members!

Photo of Xizhen Zhang
Team

Hi @Alex I like the idea of My Clean Little Hands of to build a handwashing culture in children. In your comment you think it is good to involve parents in this idea, we agree with you strongly because children could participate in the project after parents' permission. What's more, parents should keep company with their children to ensure safety of their children(prevent losing ways,tools abusing e.g.)and this can strenthen ties between parents and children.
Besides, as we mentioned our targeted country is Kenya. This country is a famous green bean exporter at the European market, which means the area is favourable for vegetable growing and we can find sponsors among green bean producers, which are incentivised to strengthen their reputation both on a national and international level. After we promote the project globally, we will do reseaches first to investigate whether the area's land is appropriate for planting and which kind of vegetables are suitable for growing at this place. :)

Photo of Xizhen Zhang
Team

Hi @John, I understand your concern and actually you do not need to worry about this problem. Our project is aimed for children at 3-5 years old or older. In this way, they will have the ability to learn something easy to implement with the company and education of their parents. Besides, parents would make decisions whether to make their children to participate in veggication can obviously they their children best and they can judge. In addition, different parents can help each other to take care of the children group and make sure the children are under careful protection.
Through implementing the Veggication program, we can support children with opportunities to explore creativity, playful learning and knowledge about issues related to farming such as plant anatomy, how to plant, best times and conditions for planting, and pollination. This can have a particular impact on educational achievements at a later stage of the childhood. So I think most families do not want to miss the chance and they can deal with the security issues perfectly. :)

Photo of Anne-Laure Fayard
Team

Hi Veggicacion team,

Great to see Warwick students involved in the challenge!

I really like your idea and I think you can really push it forward by looking at all the ideas suggested in the various comment threads. You might want to reach out to some of them to explore partnerships.

Regarding location, I think Alex's point was not only about country, but what kind of lands are you thinking in low-income communities. Hence, starting with a country is a good idea and then maybe figuring out how much land is available and how easy it is to access.

Regarding the role of parents: please keep in mind that many of the parents in these communities are busy working and don't have time to spend with their children (see several posts in research) and that they might not necessarily see the potential of your idea (this is part of the challenge: to help parents change their perception and involvement).

You note in your idea: "This project does not require lot of resources, apart from seeds, tools and volunteers and local partners. " I see what you mean but I think to pilot your project you will need a lot more resources than you think: land and access to land, volunteers and convincing local partners.

Back to a comment above: starting developing personas (based on the posts in the research) and an experience journey will help you articulate better your idea. Good luck in pushing this idea further!

Photo of Nataliia Pavlovskaia
Team

Hi Ann! As for the pilot of our project probably we could start with growing vegetables in pots, so it could be done even in the classrooms or school yards. then we just have to get the soil and don`t need have to rent land or get access to it in any other way. Pot planting even a good option if we settle the project in cold countries with limited time for growing outside. As an example, it could be some small towns in east Russia where the lack of greens in the children nutrition is obvious. I looked through several Russian scientists on the topic of children nutrition and disbalanced diet (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9378335 full text only in Russian). Of course still finding a sponsor and permission from the local authorities could be the greater issue.

Photo of Anne-Laure Fayard
Team

Hi Nataliia,

thanks for the clarifications. It's a shame I can't read Russian but the summary is interesting and I've read other studies on the topic.
I thought you were looking at Kenya for the prototype, but East Russia could also be a location to consider, in particular if you have more knowledge about that geography. It will help you developed a more contextualized idea that can then be reinterpreted in different geographies and communities.
Regarding schools and classroom, I guess it depends on what age range you are looking at and at what age schooling takes place. There's a lot of research on using gardening in schools - not only for health, but also for science curriculums. I've seen a few projects like this in the US. There were some case studies in Africa in one of the links I shared.

Photo of Xizhen Zhang
Team

Hi Ann! Thanks for your support and actually our team treasure your comment a lot. Geographic element is actually a significant part to be considered for the project. Kenya may be the first targeted country which is a famous green bean exporter at the European market and the area is favorable for vegetable growing and we can find sponsors among green bean producers. After we promote the project globally, we will do researches firstly to investigate whether the area's land is appropriate for planting and which kind of vegetables are suitable for growing at this place. We will keep patient and gradually find a conclusion that which sections in the whole world would be best places to promote veggication:)

Photo of Nataliia Pavlovskaia
Team

Concerning gardening at school i have also heard about successful projects. One of them in Holland. Children from poor families were taught how to plant or cook. Then when they grew up they already had some skills and could find a job in this areas. What is more it created a network and this children could support each other when they are grown up.

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