Hoes, trowels, and fertilizers were just some of the items that found their way to the FutureLife-Now! pilot schools in Malawi. The equipment, delivered to the schools in June 2021, was provided to enable the establishment of school gardens.
The idea of a FutureLife-Now! garden project was a way of ensuring that learners would be empowered and equipped with knowledge in crop farming. Each school received hand trowels, hand forks, rakes, pangas, watering canes, wheelbarrows, hoes, a sprayer, two 50kg bags of fertiliser, 10 packets of vegetable seeds, four bottles of chemicals, and a measuring string. Agriculture teachers gave learners practical lessons on farming, specifically on establishing and managing food gardens, and how to care for various crops and vegetables. The teachers put their hearts into the project by continuously building capacity of learners in managing the gardens.
Through the garden project, learners acquired agricultural skills that many were able to apply in establishing their own gardens at home. The project was also a means of generating funds for the school from the sale of the produce.
Amongst the learners, Nicholus Evelesoni, a Form 3 student from Linthipe Secondary School in Dedza district capitalized on the garden idea and decided to use the knowledge for the betterment of his own life by establishing his own independent garden at home.
‘’With the skills and lessons from the FutureLife-Now! programme I started my own garden in October 2021 after writing my Junior Certificate examinations,” he explained, beaming with hope as he showed off his current crops. “I planted tomatoes and maize with an aim of supporting my family and buying my school supplies. After harvesting my tomatoes in early January, I sold most of my crop at the market and made enough money to buy my mother two bags of fertilizer. I also bought myself a pig, as I am planning to extend my farming to animal production.’’ Nicholus added.
Linthipe Secondary School’s health and nutrition teacher, Catherine Chulu, said she is filled with gratitude to the FutureLife-Now! programme for empowering young people with various skills at the school. “Youth agency is key to sustainable development. When young people are empowered, they take an active role in development activities in their communities,” she said. “We encourage young people to use the skills they learn from the FutureLife-Now! programme in their communities. Nicholus has set a very good example; learning should not just be theoretical but should be put into practice.”
Nicholus said that his dream is to buy more pigs and goats through income generated from the sale of produce from his home garden.
It is clearly no surprise that Nicholus is also the chairperson of the School Garden Committee at Linthipe Secondary. He hopes his successes will encourage his fellow learners to utilize their gardening knowledge and begin their own gardens at home. “I want to help to show other young people how to take farming and turn it into a business.”