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School Garden (not just) for Ranobe

In our reforestation project in Ranobe, Madagascar we want to create a school garden with the new reforestation methode dynamic agroforestry.Maybe it could be an example for Your school garden?

Conserving the unique Spiny Thicket in Madagascar

In October 2009, Naturefund began a co-operation with Ho'Avy in order to conserve a unique Spiny Thicket forest through a reforestation project in Madagascar. To the South West of this large island, on the Pacific Coast, lies a unique Spiny Thicket forest with many species that can only be found here.

20 by 20 metre

Ho'Avy is located in Ranobe, a village in the South West of Madagascar. Our project in Ranobe, Madagascar, is to cultivate a garden near the local school. The 20 by 20 metre plot of ground has already been fenced off by the pupils. The following text presents the planting concept using the principles of dynamic agroforestry.

Lines of trees

All along the fence, spaced at a distance of around 1 metre, small trees will be planted. Some lines of trees will also be placed through the garden itself in order to create smaller sections within: For an example, we can plant:
  • Moringa cuttings, every 2 metres;
  • Small banana plants and papaya plants, one plant every 3 metres, alternately;
  • Vegetables will be placed around every tree cutting: 4 tomato plants around every tree in a square (0,8x0,8m).
  • Branches from Jatropha trees will be stuck in the soil directly next to each plant Cucumbers, 3 seeds per hole, planted in a circle around the trees (0,6x0,6m), Corn, beans (0,4x0,4). 

Greater variety

As an alternative to tomatoes and cucumbers, aubergines (0,8x0,8m) and pumpkins (0,6x0,6m) can be planted alternately around the trees in order to provide a greater variety.

Mulch around the edges

 After planting, the surrounding ground will be thickly covered with mulch material, which can consist of reeds or fresh branches. The branches are cut into small pieces to a length of 30 to 50 cm. After this, little irrigation is needed.  After a while, the tree in the middle will provide partial shade for the vegetables. The tomatoes, or aubergines will grow in bush-like formations and can cling to the Jatropha trees. Jatropha trees grow very fast and can be pruned later to replenish the soil with fresh mulch. Cucumbers or pumpkins grow very low and will cover the ground, as will the beans.

Planting methods with banana stumps

 The open farm fields can now be used for all kinds of things. One possibility is a planting method using banana stumps. Whereby, old but still green and moist stumps are cut into 1 metre pieces, then halved, lengthwise. Afterwards the two halves a placed next to each other with the flat side down. Fresh soil is placed in the space between them, and maybe some dung, then seeds such as tomato, parsley, or corn can be sown, plants that fit well in this space (corn needs sun, tomato grows in partial shade, and parsley can also grow in shade. Other vegetables which can be combined on several levels would fit, too.) 

Retain moisture 

The space between the stumps is watered once, then covered with green material, such as old dried reeds or green branches. Normally it does not require further watering as the banana stumps contain a lot of water and the moisture is retained for a long time by the covering of branches and other green material. Maybe some light must be let in for the smaller plants, but it is important that the banana plants remain covered to prevent them drying out.

Observing and Comparing

 In principle you can experiment freely on the fields. By observing and comparing the children learn which methods work best. Their ideas and suggestions are welcome. It is always good to work in small groups of 5 to a maximum of 10.

Fruit Trees

As well as this, one could create a small tree nursery for fruit trees, which when big enough can be planted in the garden between the other trees. Fruit, at a distance of 6 metres apart, e.g.mango, guava, lemons, oranges, dates, beefsteak tomatoes; Coconut palms would also fit well between two fruit trees, at a distance of 3 metres. Pdf Document on the School Garden Project:

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