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close this bookFood, Nutrition and Agriculture - 16 - Nutrition Education for the Public (FAO - FPND - FAO, 1996)
close this folderJardins scolaires et Úducation alimentaire en milieu andin¹
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View the documentSchool gardens in the rural Andes
View the documentHuertos escolares en el medio rural andino

School gardens in the rural Andes

The objective of the experience described, part of the wider ANDES (AlimentaciNutrici Desarrollo (Food, Nutrition and Development)) programme, was to improve food security for Ecuadorians living in the Andean Cordillera. A review of the available foods and consumption patterns, carried out with the local people, led to the decision to introduce fruit and vegetables into the consumption pattern to break the monotony of a primarily maize-based diet.

The article describes the methodology followed in the school gardens programme and the integration of school activities in the geographical, socio-cultural and economic domains of daily life as well as in community-based development programmes. Schoolchildren participated in production activities, particularly growing vegetables and rearing guinea-pigs, which are traditionally eaten throughout the Cordillera at religious, village and family festivities. These activities also led to the definition of educational objectives.

The overall objectives of the programme, carried out in the schools of five different villages, were based on a review of the local context with the local population, including children. These objectives were to learn how important vegetables are in diversifying the diet; to teach children to grow vegetables adapted to the local soils and climate and appreciated by the local communities; to use school breakfasts as an opportunity to eat the vegetables grown; and to use the experience of vegetable-growing to promote cooperation, responsibility, self-esteem, self-confidence, motivation and the work ethic.

The school garden intervention had a very positive impact on the children. Compared to a control group, they knew much more about food and vegetable growing and had greater cultivation skills. The children showed great enthusiasm and curiosity to taste the vegetables served at the festive breakfasts held at the school. The satisfaction of consuming the fruits of their labour and the fact that their work was valued had a very dynamic and positive impact which spurred a desire to repeat and extend the experience.