This is a first: France and China have formed a partnership around learning gardening in schools. With the 2015-2016 school year, 22,000 children from French-speaking schools in Beijing were introduced to the joys of growing flowers and vegetables, while at the same time, in France, the 17th edition of gardening in schools was getting ready. Beijing renews the operation in 2016-2017.
The initiative had never been taken yet … While 68,000 children were preparing to take part in the 2016 School Gardening Week , 22,000 children from French schools in the Chinese capital were discovering at school. the millennial gestures of gardening. The French Embassy in Beijing launched the movement, with the support of the Limagrain seed production company . The principle ? Each participating school had to identify an area of 20 m2 (or its equivalent in bins and planters), define a kitchen garden project and make it live from sowing to harvesting. In June 2016, an awards ceremony was organized to distinguish the most successful projects.
Gardening as a way of life
As of autumn 2015, 22 schools have expressed their wish to join the operation. Limagrain graciously made available to participating schools all the necessary to accompany them in their projects: seeds first, but also potting soil, gardening tools, natural products of soil fertilization and pest control of the garden. . Teaching kits were also distributed to teachers – almost identical to those distributed to French teachers participating in Gardening Week. These kits provide all the recommendations necessary for the creation of a vegetable garden: choice of species , preparation of the soil, sowing, fertilization and irrigation, fight against pests, crops.
800 children were able to work directly on the land. But 22,000 kindergarten and primary school children participated in the design of the project and were involved in its follow-up. The contest punctuated all the school life 2015-2016. Because a kitchen garden project is biology to explain the life cycle of a plant, but also reflections on respect for the environment, plastic arts with drawing to design the garden and then painting to illustrate blooms, mathematics for calculating space, etc. Gardening is an excellent opportunity to approach the traditional subjects of the teaching of children from a new angle …
Species from all over the world
What are the species that have been planted by the children? Aromas in shambles, vegetables such as eggplant, spinach, radish, tomato, cucumber, carrot, cabbage, pepper and leek, but also melon, strawberry, etc. The flowers friends of vegetables – nasturtiums, cosmos, marigolds and marigolds -, natural allies of the fight against the aphids and the caries, were also very appreciated.
The choice of species was an opportunity to do some history and geography … Indeed, the plants of the garden come from the 4 corners of the world. Eggplant, carrot, salad, onion and radish come from Asia or the Middle East. Tomatoes, zucchini or green beans come from the American continent. Africa and the Mediterranean basin have seen the birth of leek, fennel, cucumber or beet. As for Europe, it is the land of origin only rare vegetables such as broccoli and some roots (turnip, rutabaga). It is the history of the selection of plants, their adaptation to soils and climates, which allowed to create diversity in our gardens and our plates. This is how the history of plant breeding, which began with the Neolithic.