Permaculture as a Development Tool at St Mary’s Poshayi Primary School
By Mapudzi Percy: Teacher at St Mary’s Poshayi Primary School
Through SCOPE Zimbabwe’s initiative our school is beginning to take a new look at Permaculture as a ‘Development Tool’ to be used in assisting with the current challenges that we are facing at the school and as a shield in mitigating the impact of COVID- 19, and many more diseases. Malnutrition has been easily addressed through nutrition-gardens, diverse tree planting and the establishment of the food forest at the school.
Permaculture has helped our school withstand the effects of climate change and it continues to be productive. The school has embraced permaculture as an agricultural practice that’s healthier to the environment, allowing for sustainable production for longer periods of time. Permaculture has proved to be efficient at our small school with an enrollment of 378 children, than a regular farm, allowing us to produce more crops with fewer resources and less maintenance.
THE SCHOOL BEFORE AND AFTER THE INTRODUCTION OF PERMACULTURE
School land was virtually bare before the introduction of permaculture. The surroundings are now cooler, and there is less dust and mud, less erosion, and more water returning into the ground water table.
BENEFITS ASSOCIATED WITH THE IMPLEMENTATION OF PERMACULTURE AT THE SCHOOL
Permaculture is an attractive option at Poshayi Primary School because of its numerous benefits. Just some of the benefits include:
Increased pass rate
Firstly, I would like to link the school’s historic and outstanding 2019 pass rate to Scope Zimbabwe’s initiative and drive of grow your own, cook your own and eat your own food, concept. Remember a healthy body is a healthy mind. The initiative saw the school’s enrolment increasing on yearly basis, absenteeism and truancy drastically declining.
Improved diet and health
With all these amazing benefits for starting a permaculture garden, the school embarked on creating viable nutrition gardens to compliment the school’s feeding programme.
Students at the school have access to a garden at school and now they are gaining a knowledge through interaction and observation of the natural world. Children are also displaying a connection and a sense of responsibility for the environment since they have a role in its creation and maintenance.
Hands-on experience in a garden is enhancing and reinforcing the study of units in the Agricultural syllabi such as making of compost, maintenance of trees and garden crops.
Permaculture knowledge has helped the school withstand the effects of climate change and continue to be productive despite the impact of COVID-19.
Children Learn Better Outdoors With Hands-On Experience
Teachers are also finding that time spent outdoors in the garden improves children’s learning and helps to really “bring home” the subjects they are teaching in the classroom. The classroom and garden seem to work synergistically, and children with all learning styles thrive in a garden setting.
Teachers and students involved in school nutrition gardens are gaining many benefits.” Some of these benefits include:
Benefits For Teachers
· Gardens provide group workspace and cooperative learning experiences.
· Gardens encourage parent and community involvement/support/collaboration and thus increases parent and community involvement
And Of Course, The Students Benefit By:
· Developing leadership skills
· Achieving increased self-esteem through a sense of involvement and achievement through working as a team
· Developing respect for the environment and classmates
Trenches and swales have been initiated to achieve the objective of harvesting water from roof tops and runoff water.
The school managed to plant a variety of trees at the school to compliment the school feeding programme.