|February 2009 Pilot Program|
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February 2009 Pilot Program
Collaboration with Health Committees
The village health program involves establishing Community Health Commitees (CHC) in each village and conducting garden and composting workshops.
The purpose of the CHC is to provide leadership in the village regarding health issues, primarily in the areas of health education and awareness and also incorporating the kitchen garden permaculture project.
The pilot program structure
The permaculture project begins with meetings in the village informing the villagers as to what we wish to achieve with the CHC and the permaculture project, and their interest and ideas relating to these projects. Where there is sufficient need and interest, the project proceeds to the next stage involving the selection of CHC members. The CHC is comprised of an equal number of male and female members, and is formalized by recording the names and photographing each member.
The kitchen garden project next involves the running of compost and garden preparation workshops. The villagers are asked to select a suitable site in which to place a demonstration garden and compost. The workshops involve showing how to make a compost pile, what constituents are suitable and what aren’t, and how to manage the compost in respect to turning, watering and covering. The workshop concludes with a short demonstration on garden bed preparation. The bed is not fully prepared at this time, rather the villagers are asked to complete the garden by the next session in a specific time frame (usually several days). The purpose of this is to gauge the level of interest the village has for this program as well as assessing the level of knowledge regarding composting and food growing and their ability to follow instructions.
Return visits by project workers involve assessing the villagers response to the requests for completion of garden and compost sites, and providing feedback and advice. Even if villagers claim to have an understanding of composting and mulching, research has shown they generally have limited knowledge regarding how these processes work and how they are beneficial. As a result, these techniques are often poorly practiced and utilised.
The initial process concludes with a session of seed sowing. The garden area is intensively sown with a large variety of seed, the bed is mulched and the villagers instructed on how to water the seeds in.
UPDATE: There was an extremely long dry season in 2009, and many of the kitchen gardens dried up without adequate water. However, the pilot stage of this program will continue to develop the above process with respect to water management, and in some cases, will involve the installation of hand pumps with adequate depth. Seeds and equipment will be co-funded by Niranjana where possible to encourage villagers to enjoy a sense of ownership over the project and their results.