Gardens for Life
The Gardens for Life project helped to establish school gardens in Kenya, giving children essential skills for the future and ensuring at least one square meal a day.
In Africa, being able to grow your own food can make a real difference to your prospects. The Eden Project’s Gardens for Life programme worked with schools and communities in Kenya and the Gambia to feed minds and bodies, giving them essential skills for the future and helping ensure that everyone gets at least one square meal a day – using ingredients they’ve grown themselves.
Free school meals helps to ensure higher attendance rates and improves grades for students, but a whole community that can grow its own food ensures that everyone benefits.
Gardens for Life, Kenya
Based in the Rift Valley, Gardens for Life Kenya helped schools to establish gardens which provide free school meals. Free meals offer a real incentive for families to send their children (especially girls) to school rather than work, as government school meals programmes reach less than half of Kenya’s schools. Climate change also affects food prices making it harder for schools to buy in food.
'Gardens for Life came in as God-sent… it really improved the school’s lunch programme and the nutrition values of the students.'
Stephen Muraya, Munyaka School, Kenya
How it worked
Gardens for Life school gardens ensure a reliable and sustainable source of food for schoolchildren. Our team provided training sessions and simple infrastructure, such as composting facilities, drip irrigation and green houses constructed from locally available materials. The gardens also provide the school with an outdoor classroom and schools receive guidance on integrating the garden with the curriculum.
Once established, each school garden hosted a visit from at least two neighbouring schools that weren’t part of the programme, to show them the benefits of Gardens for Life and offer them the chance to join the programme.
Real life stories from Kenyan schools
The veg patch started up by this secondary school, situated in the slums of Kenya, is actually a whole field which produces a rich harvest of spinach, kale, carrots, potatoes, as well as the maize and beans used for Githeri, a popular and nourishing local dish. Not only does the garden provide lunch for its students but it also generates a surplus which helps to reduce school fees. As a result, enrolment at the school increased by more than 50%.
Gardens for Life hasn't just make a difference to schools; former Gardens for Life students from Gatimu school set up their own horticulture businesses and to help other schools start their own gardens. Each of these schools in turn advises local people on how best to grow food, taking the programme’s values and expertise out to the wider community.
'Gardens for Life can make the difference between poverty and prosperity, between having an education and having none.'
Monty Don, gardener and broadcaster