“THE LITTLE GARDENERS PROJECT”
MAY 1, 2022 TO NOVEMBER 2023
Little Gardeners is a children’s grass-root project run and implemented by high-school students and overseen by Vox Tua, a nonprofit association passionate to engage, educate, and empower children and the youth. It involves building, planting and taking care of a community garden. It would serve as an important educational tool for the youngest (ages 5 to 12) as well as a way to strengthen the intergenerational bonds in our community. The project aims to promote mentorship culture and build life-long skills and create a healthy attitude towards food and life in general, connecting to nature and disconnecting to technology.
Participants in the project would be 1,000-1,500 students from schools in and around Sofia. The target participants are urban children due to their lack of exposure to gardens and local agriculture as opposed to children from more rural parts of Bulgaria.
The project aims to create from scratch the first community garden, run and managed by high school students, for the benefit of children ages five to twelve years old and their community. It will foster an interactive learning environment that will teach children life-long-skills like: food and environmental knowledge, creativity, adaptability, empathy, social skills, and teamwork. We aim to significantly increase the participation of children in outdoor activities such as gardening, which will improve their social skills and mental health. Basic skills and knowledge of growing and cultivating vegetables will be acquired which will raise awareness of our relationship to our food and bodies, farm-to-table eating and climate change, promote a healthy lifestyle for the whole family and continue the legacy of the Bulgarian rural agricultural tradition.
The Team Running the Project
The two people leading the project are Iva Radoeva and Natalia Borisova – 12th grade students in the Sofia High School of Mathematics with over four years participating in voluntary work in the Bulgarian Youth Red Cross and several independent projects. Having grandparents in the countryside, the project managers grew up involved in the process of maintaining and taking care of a garden and as they got passionate about urban agriculture, they created innovative gardens in their own homes, utilizing window and balcony space. Having that experience, they are now eager to share the joys of gardening with children in Sofia, creating their vision on a bigger scale and translating what they saw in the countryside to the urban context of Sofia. Six to ten volunteers from several schools in the city will be selected to help with the execution of the project. Overseeing the implementation of the project will be Luis Lomeli, a former Peace Corp Volunteer in Bulgaria and Kyrgyzstan with over 15 years of experience in education and youth development around the world. Vanya Ananieva, a senior citizen and gardener of 50 years, will serve as an agriculture consultant.
The “Little Gardeners” project is located in the center of Sofia at 5 Chernomen Street. It is owned by the bakery “Caramel.bg”, and before the covid-19 pandemic, the place was used by the MultiKulti foundation and was home to a shared garden, which closed its doors in 2020. The “Little Gardeners” project aims to develop similar urban spaces and continue the legacy of such green initiatives.
Structure of the Project
- Set up and prepare the gardening space to become a versatile and dynamic learning environment for our participants.
- Provide volunteers with on-going training about gardening, the environment, food, and other useful skills to lead dynamic tours to our “little gardeners”.
- Conduct daily tour and gardening activities to groups of children from all types of schools from Sofia.
- Run games and arts and crafts activities as part of the gardening experience.
- Teach our participants how to plant, harvest, and maintain the garden.
- Donate all vegetables and part of the fruits to foodbanks.
- Recruit sponsors to contribute with small donations for the sustainability of the project in the long term. We will work specially with small businesses that support local grown products and small bio shops.
Detailed information about the activities
- The main activity is providing group educational gardening tours to children. The project managers will lead a 40-minute lesson about the growth of vegetables according to the month we are in and give children an opportunity to see how seeds are sowed and harvest the production themselves. The other 20-minute will focus on running games and arts and crafts activities. The children will engage in the proposed activities like drawing with seeds and chalks, creating a “bug hotel”, bird feeders, and many more.
- The second part of the project consists of creating tutorial videos about planting and growing vegetables. These videos will be guided by Vanya Ananieva and performed by the project managers. By creating videos we aim to make the knowledge about gardens easier to access for the young generation which will provide sustainable resources for the future.