We entered a sustainability phase with our model garden in Panabaj elementary school. Through a series of five participatory sessions, community leaders designed a plan for the school to assume full control of the garden’s functioning, including routine maintenance, activities with students, and resource procurement.
We partnered with three new schools in the San Lucas municipality, marking the first time that Pueblo a Pueblo has expanded its reach outside of Santiago Atitlán. Drawing from our prior experience with schools in Santiago, we have grounded these new partnerships in a revised implementation plan and a more comprehensive monitoring and evaluation system that will allow us to gauge how steadily we move towards project objectives.
We also lead a parent training initiative in two partner schools in Chacayá and La Cumbre. Thirty parents participated in a course on the basics of organic gardening, which hopefully will lead to healthier eating habits for students at home. In a similar attempt to link learning and doing, students who attended our vacation garden camp experimented for the first time with cooking healthy recipes that can be made almost entirely from produce harvested in gardens.
For sure, 2014 will be a busy year: our project staff will continue to work in our seven partner schools, train approximately sixty local and government educators, and hold garden classes with over a thousand students. And like in every other long-term project, we expect to meet new and different challenges.
We’re confident, however, that if we listen closely to communities and stay true to our mission, our Organic School Gardens Project will be able to build on the momentum that we’ve gained over the past four years.
We’ll be sure to keep you in the loop as we do.