what we do
Slow Food Gardens
These gardens are concrete models of sustainable agriculture, attentive to different conditions (environmental, social, cultural) and easily replicable.
Slow Food works to support African biodiversity and the right to food sovereignty, recovering traditional production and bringing local food back on the market, in homes and schools. Creating a garden is both a concrete act and of high symbolic value: it helps to solve the problem of malnutrition and to defend the right to land and food sovereignty. A garden is also a force for change in countries torn by conflicts, and who also pay the high price of climate changes. Gardens are a stronghold against land-grabbing, the indiscriminate grabbing of land that deprives local populations of fundamental resources, forcing them to emigrate.
An essential condition in the creation of gardens is the presence of a community and both the involvement and training of a local network (which includes young people, older generations, experts, agronomists, veterinarians, cooks, teachers, etc.). Decisions relating to how a garden is set up must be shared by all. Duties and responsibilities must be equally shared within the group on the basis of the ability and availability of each participant.
The characteristics of Slow Food Gardens are the following:
- They are created by a community. The gardens bring together and value the capacities of all the community members uniting different generations and social groups (village or school associations, local administrators or nonprofit organizations). They recover the wisdom of older generations, make the most of the energy and creativity of younger people, and benefit from the skills of experts.
- They are based on observation. Before planting a garden, it is necessary to learn to observe and to get to know the terrain, local varieties and water sources. The garden must be adapted to its surroundings, and local materials should be used to make fencing, compost bins and nurseries.
- They do not require a large amount of space. By looking creatively at the space available, it is possible to find somewhere to put a food garden in the most unlikely places: on a roof, by the side of a footpath and so on.
- They are biodiversity gardens.Slow Food gardens are places of local biodiversity, which has adapted to the climate and terrain thanks to human selection. These nutritious and hardy varieties do not need chemical fertilizers and pesticides: vegetables, medicinal plants, herbs and many fruits trees (bananas, mangos, citrus).
- They produce their own seeds. Seeds are selected and reproduced by the communities. This means that every year the plants become stronger and bettersuited to the local area, and money does not need to be spent on buying packetsof seeds.
- They are cultivated using sustainable methods. Natural remedies based on herbs, flowers or ash are used to combat harmful insects or diseases.
- They save water. Once again, an approach based on observation and creativity is fundamental. Sometimes it only takes solutions such as a gutter, tank,cistern to collect rainwater, agro-ecological methods for reducing water consumption, evaporation and soil erosion, to resolve seemingly insurmountable problems and avoid more expensive solutions.
- They are open-air classrooms. Food gardens offer an excellent opportunity for teaching adults and children alike about native plant varieties, promoting a healthy and varied diet, explaining how to avoid using chemicals and giving value to and teaching the craft of farming.
- They are useful, but also fun.Food gardens are a simple and inexpensive way of providing healthy and nutritious food.But even in the most remote villages and the poorest schools, Slow Food gardens are also a place for games, celebrations and fun.
- They are networked together. Neighboring gardens exchange seeds, while those further away exchange ideas and information. The coordinators meet, write to each other, collaborate and establish friendships. Twinning between schools from all over the world allows the creation of new gardens across the continent.