Here follows some information sent through by Bishnu, our partner in Nepal, about the work that PSD-Nepal are carrying out to help with promoting and developing community gardens, even where the only open space is on the roof!
Community and School garden in Nepali context
Nepal has been an agricultural country for most of its history and even now two thirds of the population is directly involved in agriculture. Although urbanization is happening all around the country and some people have moved on to newer occupations for their livelihood, agriculture is still very much a part of people’s lives. Knowledge is passed on from elders to younger people to enables them to practice agriculture even in the urban settings.
Women grow vegetables in their backyards using compost that they made from their kitchen waste. They use the produce to supplement their income or for their own consumption. Having a backyard vegetable garden is the expected norm in Nepal if they have the land. Free farm lands are hard to come by in urban areas however, so many people have resorted to rooftop farming (“Kaushi Kheti”) instead where people grow different food crops in flower pots or old recycled buckets which is enough for their family.
Agriculture is also a community effort in many areas where a public or community land is used to cultivate crops which is then distributed among the people or sold to add to the community budget. Public lands such as those in schools are used for agriculture and the school children themselves are involved in cultivating flowers and vegetables. This effort is part of their regular schoolwork where they learn about nature as well as community collaboration. These community gardens teach young people as well as adults about cooperation for the common good and foster a communal bond. The potential for collaboration with local governments could ensure that community gardens have an even bigger impact.
When we had a conversation on the transition to carbon zero and the promotion of new energy systems, they said that if we grow enough vegetables for ourselves, transportation fuel and energy may be saved and reduce vehicle-borne air pollution. The plant also absorbs carbon emissions. Community gardens can reduce neighborhood waste through composting. It maintains the ecosystem of the surroundings and promotes new energy to nature as well as human beings. One fascinating statement was given when we talked about environmental awareness and change, i.e., “Plants can live without human beings, but the human being cannot live without plants. On the ongoing climate change that has to disrupt the weather, we brought some small initiation so that we eat healthily and live in a healthy environment. Such small initiation helps to bring big change. It could result in reduced greenhouse gas emissions and carbon dioxide removal from the atmosphere through carbon sequestration. Also, the house with larger areas having trees and plants in it has less pollution compared to the one that doesn’t.”