Learning about good nutrition through school-based vegetable gardens

Duabone Community in the East Agona District of the Central Region is the first to successfully pilot a vegetable garden as part of the Nestlé Healthy Kids Programme. Duabone RC Primary School volunteered to kick-start the idea in July this year by planting okra, peppers and carrots under the supervision of the Department of Agricultural Extension of the University of Ghana.

It was an intense and rewarding three months of work for the teachers and pupils of the school, from tillage of land through planting to harvest.

The chief and elders of the community were introduced to the vegetable garden during the harvest of the foodstuffs. “Agriculture forms a key part of any countries development and I am happy children will be able to use this vegetable garden to learn the importance of eating fruits and vegetables”, said Nana Kweku Ansah, the Chief of Duabone community

Koomson James, a school teacher in the community, added: “The training offered by the University of Ghana facilitated our learning of good gardening and agricultural practices. Parents should be encouraged to engage in vegetable garden activities as it will help children identify good sources of nutrition”.

A class 5 pupil, Ruth Nyame, stated that she was happy to follow the progress of her school’s garden and witness how the vegetables grow. She had never seen what a carrot seed looks like.

The school is now planning to organise healthy cooking demonstrations with the pupils to appreciate the importance of vegetables in their diet. They also project to practically involve the parents and community members in the cultivation process in the future.

This pilot sets the pace for other schools in the Nestlé Healthy Kids programme to start their own vegetable gardens and related activities, like cooking lessons, in 2016.

This initiative is part of the Nestlé Healthy Kids Programme, which aims to promote healthy diets and lifestyles among school-aged children. Implemented in partnership with Ghana Education Services and the Nutrition Department of the University of Ghana, the programme has reached directly 14,000 children through classroom activities since 2011.

In 2015, an eight-week long campaign in the Junior Graphic newspaper and Graphic online edition helped about 60,000 children learn about nutrition through mazes, crossword puzzles and other games.