Last summer, the French School in Warsaw – LFV opened up its new permaculture vegetable garden in cooperation with “Varsauvons La Planète” (a group of committed volunteers from the association “Varsovie Accueil”) and with the support of the Veolia Foundation. This pedagogical project was launched first for preschool children but will be soon extended to all primary school pupils. The aim: allowing children to have constant contact with nature and discover the secrets of sustainable farming.
Education for Sustainable Development is one of the main priorities of the French Primary School in Sadyba (Lycée français de Varsovie – LFV) and of the Agency for French Education Abroad (AEFE). With the creation of this permaculture vegetable garden, the idea was to offer teachers a new pedagogical tool for raising young children’s awareness of environment protection and sustainable development.
To create the garden, 40 m3 of soil, 20 m3 of wood debris, 1500 young plants and many long hours of hard work were needed. The main challenge was indeed to install this garden on a paved courtyard. Another obstacle was the lockdown itself, which forced the volunteers of the group “Varsauvons La Planète” to reconsider the preparation of seedlings with the preschool children. “Seedlings carers” thus volunteered to take charge of them at home for two months. Week after week, they took care of the many new sprouts and helped the growth of radishes, peas, carrots, lettuce, broccoli, chard, cucumbers, spinach, tomatoes…On the last weekend of May, the LFV’s new permaculture vegetable garden finally found its place inside the school to everyone’s delight.
Both teachers of the French School in Warsaw and volunteers from “Varsauvons La Planète” have been trained by Łukasz Nowacki, a permaculture expert from Transformacja Foundation, in order to be able to take care of the vegetable garden by themselves. In July, the first strawberries and small vegetables were harvested. In autumn, the LFV’s sustainable garden bloomed with pumpkins, melons, kale, tomatoes, corn, potatoes, and many aromatic herbs.
Children, with the help of their teachers, are constantly taking care of the plants, vegetables, and fruits. For them, it is a great occasion to learn more about sustainable development and the seasonal cycle of the earth, but also to develop healthier nutritional habits. Also, this project allows children to interact more with each other and to be involved in a common project that encourages solidarity and citizen commitment.
This sustainable garden will keep evolving and will be enriched in the future with new projects initiated by LFV’s teachers and the entire educational community. Few ideas already emerged such as building houses for birds and insects, generalizing waste segregation and composting at the school, and building a rainwater-harvesting system for irrigation.
Few words about permaculture
Permaculture incorporates sustainable agriculture practices and land management techniques that rely on nature-based and organic solutions. The idea is to reproduce ecosystem services that already exist in nature between plants, fruits, and vegetables. Permaculture does not leave any negative impact on the environment. On the contrary, it even supports the development of local biodiversity. The aim of permaculture is to create autonomous and self-sufficient gardens using only non polluting and zero waste techniques respectful of the environment.