LN – An orchard project that changed the way of eating of 50,000 children in the country

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When they started with the garden project in the Garden N ° 903 María Elena Walsh, the boys called attention to how “the little seed they had planted was transformed into a lettuce.” Credit: Daniel Jayo

When Graciela Lumbia warned that her students – like the vast majority of boys in Argentina – had a very varied diet and practically did not consume fruits and vegetables, she refused to stay idly by. Then, the director of Garden No. 903 María Elena Walsh of the San Vicente party, province of Buenos Aires,
what was first a dream was raised: an orchard that would give children and their families more options when feeding; and, at the same time, it will strengthen the link between the garden and the community.

A year ago, the garden run by Graciela was able to start growing her own fruits and vegetables.
It was thanks to the commitment of the
Child Huerta Foundation
, which since 1999 has already built 624 orchards in rural and urban schools throughout the country, which benefit 50,000 children.

When the project was born, 20 years ago, it focused on combating child malnutrition.
Over time, twist your arm to malnutrition, instill healthy habits and foster community development, became their main goals.


For 20 years, the Huerta Niño Foundation has been working to combat child malnutrition and to promote community development.
For 20 years, the Huerta Niño Foundation has been working to combat child malnutrition and to promote community development. Credit: Daniel Jayo

Since 1999, the Huerta Niño Foundation has built 624 orchards in rural and urban schools throughout the country, which benefit 50,000 children.

Since they started with the garden, Graciela and Maria Elena Walsh garden teachers work to improve the quality of life of their students.
“As soon as the children have more contact with good nutritional habits, they will have a better chance of nourishing themselves during their childhood, adolescence and adulthood,” explains the director.

In fact, as the little ones are closely watched by their parents and are “great viralizers,” Graciela states that
It is common for them to “transmit these healthy customs to the rest of their families.”

The first thing they planted in the garden were tomatoes and lettuce, as they “grow fast.”
“It is essential that the project be successful as soon as possible, so the kids get excited,” says the director. Today, its crops include chard, onion, bell pepper, parsley, oregano, radishes, cabbage and potatoes, among other vegetables.


The master gardeners distribute among the boys the food they produce in the garden.
The master gardeners distribute among the boys the food they produce in the garden. Credit: Daniel Jayo

As soon as the children have more contact with good nutritional habits, they will be more likely to be well nourished during their childhood, adolescence and adulthood.

Graciela Lumbia

Each course sows in their respective quarry the vegetables or fruits that they think and once the seeds – which are delivered by Huerta Niño and the Ministry of Social Development of the Nation – bear fruit,
the teachers distribute each crop among the boys.

“The moment when a child approaches his father when he leaves school and gives him the food we produce here in the garden, it is very exciting. They propose to make salads or season with parsley, for example,” he describes. Graciela
In the future, teachers also plan to cook organic food in the garden dining room.


Kindergarten kids use the garden as an
Kindergarten kids use the garden as an “open-air classroom.” Credit: Daniel Jayo

A multiplier impact

Barbara Krauss, executive director of Huerta Niño, believes that the success of the foundation is due to the fact that they took into account, from the outset, the needs of each school:
“We ask them what they want and what they want it for. Based on that, we co-design a project that is theirs, not ours.”, account.

In this way, he explains that hardly the gardens of the whole country have a common goal, but that each one adapts to its community.
“We do not intend to have a productivity to sell in a supermarket, but to achieve what they set out in each community, that is the true accompaniment we do”, details.


The garden director, Graciela Lumbia, the executive director of the Huerta Niño Foundation and the teacher, Lidia Diaz.
The garden director, Graciela Lumbia, the executive director of the Huerta Niño Foundation and the teacher, Lidia Diaz. Credit: Daniel Jayo

Barbara Krauss, executive director of Huerta Niño, believes that the success of the foundation is due to the communities taking over the garden project.

Teachers in the Maria Elena Walsh garden articulated the garden in a way that encompassed various learning areas.
Children from 3 to 5 years use the outdoor space to develop the discovery of the environment, communication between them and their ability to investigate. “They were interested from the first moment, they were surprised how the little seed they had planted was transformed into a lettuce and how the bugs then ate it,” Graciela recalls.

In fact, as a result of their curiosity, the children showed up at the last Science Fair in San Vicente and presented an investigation of home remedies to scare away pests.
“No one could understand how being so young, they were there presenting their work”, Director says.


Since they installed the garden, the parents of the children who attend Garden No. 903 María Elena Walsh have strengthened their role in school activities.
Since they installed the garden, the parents of the children who attend Garden No. 903 María Elena Walsh have strengthened their role in school activities. Credit: Daniel Jayo

The boys were interested from the first moment, they were surprised how the little seed they had planted was transformed into a lettuce and how the bugs then ate it.

Graciela Lumbia

What Graciela found most surprising and pleasant in the garden was her ability to generate community. The director affirms that, when only two or three parents attended the educational meetings before, now everyone participates and even, several times a week, they appear in the institution with shovels and gloves to help with the crops.

Today, the project belongs to everyone: the parents divided irrigation schedules, and at least one third of them already have their own orchards in their homes.
“Currently, they cook what they harvest and they don't have to make 20 blocks to the center to buy in an expensive greengrocer's shop,” Graciela concludes with pride.

How to collaborate

On the occasion of its 20th anniversary, this Wednesday Huerta Niño will carry out its ninth Annual Solidarity Dinner. It will be at 20.30 in the San Miguel Palace. To book tickets, write to: in[email protected]

(tagsToTranslate) An orchard project that changed the way of eating of 50,000 children in the country – LA NACION


Publicado en el diario La Nación