Facilitator notes:

The aim of this project is to encourage a sense of responsibility and togetherness in the community, by engaging participants in a gardening project. They work together to cultivate an urban garden, growing fruits and vegetables which can be shared locally. This project can help to reduce stress, instill a sense of pride, and give energy to participants. Activities strengthen self-esteem and confidence, as participants provide for basic needs, and give practical and/or financial support to others.

Growing fruits and vegetables takes weeks, months or even years for some plants. It is important the land for this activity is available for a long period of time. It is also important the soil is fertile and is good for growing vegetables and fruit. If the soil is not good and the plants do not grow, doing this activity could lead to feelings of failure and inadequacy. The garden should be protected from animals that may try to eat the plants.

Choose a piece of land that can easily be gardened by the number of participants. If the piece of land is too big, it will be difficult for participants to garden well in the time available. If it is too small, some participants may feel unable to contribute. If a piece of land is not available, there are creative ways of growing vegetables and fruits in containers or old tyres that are filled with soil. Explore what options are available before holding the first planning meeting.

Participants should be around the age of 8 years and above. Make sure that all participants choose a task when sharing responsibility for the gardening project.

Three activities are described below:
     • The first is the planning meeting which describes how to set up an urban garden.
     • The second are notes for facilitators on the regular tasks that need supervision during the gardening project.
     • The third is the final meeting with participants when the gardening project is complete.

Activity 1: Initial planning meeting


Instructions:

1. Welcome the participants and thank them for coming. Start the meeting by saying:

“You are invited to take part in an exciting project to make a garden. This will involve a lot of work in making the garden and then caring for the fruit and vegetables in the garden. This is a project that will require your commitment. Plants need water and care as they grow to make sure they are healthy and protected from animals, insects and weeds. When the fruit and vegetables are ready to harvest, we will share them with each other and with people in need in the community.”

2. Confirm with the participants that they are interested in and committed to taking part in this project.

3. Facilitate a group discussion to explore the following questions, and note responses on a board or flipchart paper:

     a. Where could the garden be located? Is there a suitable piece of land available? If not, where could the plants be grown?
     b. What is needed to establish the garden? For example, is a fence needed, additional soil, fertilizer, tools, etc.?
     c. What vegetables and fruits should be planted?
     d. How could the garden be protected from animals and insects?
     e. How would the garden be watered?

Explore any other issues that may be relevant to your context, for example security issues.

4. Now engage the participants in a discussion around who will take responsibility for what tasks, initially to set up the garden, and then on a regular basis to care for the garden. For example, who will water the plants? Who will care for the plants to make sure they are protected from weeds, animals, insects or other threats?

5. Use this discussion to draw up a ‘responsibility plan’, either on a flipchart, chalkboard or on a piece of paper. List all the tasks (for example, securing the piece of land, or access to water, finding seeds and seedlings, etc.) and make sure someone volunteers to take responsibility for each task.

6. Make a paper copy of the responsibility plan and give one to every participant. Make sure everyone is clear about what their responsibilities are in the gardening project.

Activity 2: Garden work


Facilitator notes:
When a plan has been made, work closely with the participants and other stakeholders to secure fertile land or a space to create a vegetable garden in containers. Make sure that all the resources needed are available before the project is started to prevent later disappointments.

Gardening requires regular care and attention and the on-going participation of a team of people. When successful, it can instill pride and a strong sense of achievement. Make yourself available for consultation throughout the project, and be sure to involve yourself in the project as much as possible.

If you do not have experience with gardening projects, consult someone who does, for example, a farmer or gardener. You may need advice on what plants are suitable for the location, where to access them, how to prepare the soil for planting, which seeds and plants should be planted at which time of the year, etc.

Keep the responsibility plan for caring for the garden updated. Participants may commit to a task and not be able to maintain their involvement, and someone else will have to take over the responsibility. It is helpful to appoint someone to keep the responsibility plan updated.

Hold regular meetings with the volunteer gardeners to discuss any challenges or problems.

Activity 3: Project completion


Facilitator notes:
This activity can be held when the garden is established and running well, or if the garden project ends.

Instructions:
1. Welcome the participants and thank them for coming. Start the meeting by saying:

“A gardening project takes dedication and commitment. From the time the seeds or seedlings are planted, they need water, sunshine and attention. You have all contributed to this successful gardening project, and we have been able to share the harvest of fruits and vegetables with the local community. I invite you today to reflect on the experience we have shared together.”

2. Ask the participants to sit in a circle and ask them to share their reflections on their participation in this project. Some questions that could be used to guide the reflection are:

     a. How has the process been - from planning to establishing and then maintaining and caring for the garden?
      b. What has it been like to work together as a team?
     c. What have you liked about this project?
     d. What was the most challenging part of the project for you?
     e. What have you learnt about yourself in doing this gardening project?
     f. What could be done to improve this project if it is done again?

3. When everyone has shared their reflections on the experience, thank the participants for their dedication. Emphasize that it was through their combined effort that this was a success.