“Getting Kids Involved With Gardening” by Great Big Plants

I found this interesting message on the Blog of the company GREAT BIG PLANTS
Address: 4405 South Litchfield Road
Avondale, AZ 85323 – USA
Telephone: 001-877-4BIOSCI
Email: Info@GreatBigPlants.com

Planting and gardening is a passion for many people, but have you ever thought about getting your kids involved? You would be teaching them valuable things to take with them into adulthood such as responsibility and hard work. Above that, you will also be spending time with your child and bonding. What are some things you can do to get your children involved and having fun while doing it? Start by letting them choose a favorite houseplant to grow from ground up. It could be a project for them where they take pictures of its progress and post it on a big poster board or construction paper. They could even experiment with two different plants and try different fertilizers, lighting, etc. and compare them. This could easily be a school science project.
If you have a vegetable garden outside, let them start their own favorite plant, like tomatoes. Give them advice when they need it and guide them along the way. Tell them that when they get ripe plants, you will make a special dish out of them. They’ll be proud that they have done something by themselves, and that they get to eat something they grew. Decorate the garden. They could draw pictures of their plant and put it on posts next to their plants. Let them be creative and have fun!
Have them help you when you garden. Make them feel like they are really helping you a great deal. It can be as simple as watering.
These are just a few ways to get your kids involved. The important thing is that they have fun and learn something while doing it. The more creative it is for the child, the more fun it can be for both of you.

This is an amazing coincidence! Today, Hans STROCK has sent me his comment on my blog, and visiting his blog I find the text above, corresponding completely with UNICEF’s school gardens project in Algeria (see former posts on my blog).

I agree fully with Hans that “Getting Kids Involved with Gardening” is a great idea and I join him recommending to get youngsters interested in gardening. There are such a lot of nice things to do for kids, in our own garden, but also at school.

Let us first develop some good suggestions to get the adult “decision makers” involved (parents and/or teachers), because without their “devotion to the good cause” it will be difficult to get the kids started. Let us find the right incentives.

In the drylands, like in many African countries, complementary production of food at school can be a good incentive. Maybe the pupils can produce young trees at school (e.g. fruit trees) and take them home for planting at the end of the school year. It would certainly be an excellent contribution to reforestation in the drylands (or afforestation in the humid regions).

Let me invite my readers to come up with some practical suggestions about “Getting Kids Involved with Gardening“. How would you make the kids enthusiastic, at home or at school? Hope to hear from you.


Going for Growth – Science, Technology and Innovation in Africa

I have read with interest the following text published in Development Gateway’s dgCommunities :

Going for Growth: Science, Technology and Innovation in Africa


This collection of essays by key experts in the field of international development looks at the role of science, technology and innovation in encouraging a risk-taking, problem solving approach to development cooperation in Africa. This year has seen an unprecedented determination by the world’s richest nations to engage with the development of the poorest. The report of the Commission for Africa, chaired by Prime Minister Tony Blair, Our Common Interest, set out the themes that dominated the G8’s discussions at Gleneagles over the summer, while a mass movement, in the form of the ‘Make Poverty History’ campaign, affirmed that the political agenda was matched by a widespread public demand for action. Central to this transformative agenda will be the role of science, technology and innovation, both as a driver of economic growth within the developing countries and as a core element in nurturing managerial and governance competencies.
Calestous Juma, ed. The Smith Institute, London, November 2005.
Science, Technology, and Public Policy Program
Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs
ISBN: 1 902488 97 0
Document Length: 129 pp.

For more information about this publication please contact:

Contributor: John Daly – Published Date: February 7, 2007

Going for Growth in Action: Smith Institute Report’s Ideas Applied to Africa’s Mining Industry

Science, Technology, and Globalization Project Director Calestous Juma has sparked a serious debate about education, entrepreneurship, and Africa’s mining industry in Dr. Chris Hinde’s “Comment” column which appears in Mining Magazine. Juma is the editor of Going for Growth: Science, Technology and Innovation in Africa (.pdf), a collection of essays published by the Smith Institute, a British think tank. “Going for Growth” emphasizes building Africa’s capacity to solve its own problems.

Juma starts his essay with “Most African economies have historically been associated with natural resources and raw materials. There is growing recognition, however, that a transition into modern economies will involve considerable investment and use of new knowledge.” He has since called for the mining industry to fund and lend expertise to a school of entrepreneurship that would raise scientific literacy — and be located in the African country that makes the best case for hosting it. The school would have places for approximately 100 students per year and would serve as a model for similar centers of learning all over Africa. See “African Lessons” (.pdf) by Dr. Chris Hinde in Mining Magazine (February 2006) for the complete interview.

A later issue of Mining Magazine continued the discussion, focusing on the need for the proposed schools to teach how both the international risk-capital markets operate and mining ventures are financed. African mining operators and investors must be trained on how and where to obtain capital. See “Money Matters” (.pdf) by Dr. Chris Hinde in Mining Magazine (June 2006).

On June 22, 2006, Professor Calestous Juma resumed the discussion by addressing the Human Rights & Business Roundtable in Washington, D.C. The Roundtable is comprised of representatives of the extractive industry (oil & mining companies), human rights organizations, and development agencies. They meet regularly in invitation-only, confidential sessions to discuss issues of common cause and concern — specifically the promotion of the rule of law and open societies. Over the last few years the group has focused increasingly on community and economic development projects and issues surrounding community engagement.

This session, entitled “Bain or Blessing: Can the Extractive Industry Help Reinvent African Economies?”, focused on how resources can be utilized to “extract growth” for Africa, as well as other developing countries. Professor Juma discussed how the extractive industry, which is becoming dominant in many African economies, can be used as an engine of sustainable growth, breaking the widely held view that natural resource extraction is associated with corruption and environmental non sustainability. The Roundtable explored the direct links between community/development activities, including corporate partnerships with international donor agencies and the larger strategy of economic development. As companies invest to increase the local content of their work and managerial force, they are promoting (and could further promote) higher technologies in the fields of business, communications, engineering, and the environment.



What an interesting text about “the role of science, technology and innovation in encouraging a risk-taking, problem solving approach to development cooperation in Africa”!. This is what we were since long looking for: “a problem solving approach development cooperation in Africa”, and all other developing regions of course, in particular when entering a period of “an unprecedented determination by the world’s richest nations to engage with the development of the poorest” (Make Poverty History campaign).

It sounds like a dream-come-true when we read:

Central to this transformative agenda will be the role of science, technology and innovation, both as a driver of economic growth within the developing countries and as a core element in nurturing managerial and governance competencies”.

Let us go a bit deeper into the “serious debate” about education, entrepreneurship, and Africa’s mining industry, sparked by Director Calestous Juma (see above) when he starts his essay with …

Continue reading “Going for Growth – Science, Technology and Innovation in Africa”

Nourriture et reboisement – Food and reforestation


In his comment on my former post about school gardens Dr. Mohamed Saadi says that reforestation is more important than constructing some scattered school gardens. As almost all countries have suffered from deforestation during the last decades, I agree fully that reforestation is very important. However, I am convinced that in desertied areas reforestation and food production are equally important in the combat of desertification. They can easily be combined in a school garden project, aiming at food production for the school kitchen, combined with the creation of a school nursery for production of young trees to be planted by the children. Every National Ministry of Education, cooperating with international agencies like UNICEF, WFP or FAO, could easily set up an interesting program to involve all schools in the creation of a school garden and a tree nursery. A National Tree Planting Day could certainly help. It seems to me that this is the best way to motivate all youngsters of a country to contribute to the improvement of their living conditions and the ecological situation of the nation.


La désertification rampante et la pollution est la conséquence de la méconnaissance du milieu dans lequel nous vivons. L’irresponsabilité des structures chargées de l’urbanisation principalement ont grandement contribué à la désertification de la bande Nord de l’Algérie, bande de 80 km environ du littoral vers la chaîne de l’Atlas Tellien. Une des solutions est un reboisement ” à outrance “, planifié et efficace qui tend à réconcilier l’homme et son environnement. L’école et l’enfant constituent un passage obligé pour reconstituer ce que nous avons détruit et replanter ce que nous avons défriché.

Je pense que plus important que quelques jardins parsemés par-ci par-là est que nous lançons un projet (par exemple à Boumerdès où, dès qu’un enfant naisse, ses parents plantent un arbre. Ainsi je propose un projet sous l’égide de l’Unicef en coordination avec une association dédiée à ce but, les services des communes, les écoles et la direction des forêts, pour reboiser des zones d’abord urbaines, puis à la lisière des cités.

Je serais prêt à participer à un tel projet.




Comme presque tous les pays ont durement souffert d’un déboisement à outrance pendant les dernières décennies, je suis du même avis que le Dr. Saadi : le reboisement de grandes surfaces est très important pour tous les pays en voie de désertification, même dans les zones humides.

Néanmoins, je suis convaincu que dans les pays désertifiés des zones arides et semi-arides, même sub-humides, le reboisement et la production de nourriture sont d’une importance quasi égale. Pourrions-nous penser que des jeunes avec un estomac presque vide seraient intéressés par un programme de reboisement ? À chaque fois que j’ai proposé un projet de reboisement dans les pays Sahéliens, j’ai eu les mêmes réponses : “Comment produire les efforts pour créer des trous d’implantation d’arbres avec un estomac qui gronde de faim ?” et “Donnez-nous à manger d’abord et nous planterons des arbres par après !”.

Nous avons alors réagi à ces observations pertinentes de la population rurale par le lancement de projets de jardins communautaires, qui réunissaient toutes les femmes d’un village pour la culture maraîchère dans un jardin entouré d’une ceinture d’arbres. Ainsi, la production alimentaire était combinée avec le reboisement. Bien sûr, tout ceci n’était qu’à une toute petite échelle. Mais les résultats excellents auraient dû suffire pour convaincre les autorités à multiplier ces efforts splendides à l’échelle nationale. C’est là que notre lobbying n’a pas connu de succès, car la politique est une chose totalement différente du travail de terrain. Et je ne suis qu’un chercheur qui apporte une solution pour les problèmes de sécheresse et de désertification. C’est aux décideurs de s’en servir à l’échelle nationale ou même internationale. Hélas !

Continue reading “Nourriture et reboisement – Food and reforestation”

Gardens in the desert – Jardins dans le désert


Within its Nutrition Programme, UNICEF ALGERIA launched in 2006 a splendid project, called “Family gardens in the refugee camps of the Sahraouis“. These camps are located in the region of Tindouf (S.W. Algeria).

I will try to show the success stories of this project by inviting you to have a look at a series of pictures with legends about the small gardens created in different camps. Please do not forget that these gardens are constructed in the Sahara desert, with all its possible constraints (climate, availibilty of water, soil, salinity etc.).

Have a look at the following URL and double click on the pictures to see the enlarged version and the legend:


Interesting isn’t it ?

Dans le cadre de son Programme Nutrition, UNICEF ALGERIE vient de lancer en 2006 son projet “Jardins Familiaux dans les camps des réfugiés Sahraouis“. Ces camps se trouvent dans la région de Tindouf (S.W. Algérie).

Je veux essayer de vous montrer les cas de succès de ce projet en vous invitant à voir une série de photos et de légendes concernant ces petits jardins créés dans différents camps. Veuillez ne pas oublier que ces jardins ont été construits dans le désert Sahara, avec toutes ses contraintes possibles (climat, disponibilité de l’eau, sol, salinité etc.).

Visitez l’URL suivant et cliquez deux fois sur une photo pour la voir en agrandissement et avec la légende:


Intéressant, non ?

Jardins familiaux dans le désert Sahara en Algérie

Dans le cadre du Programme NUTRITION de l’UNICEF en Algérie, un projet de construction de jardins familiaux fut lancé dans les camps des réfugiés du Sahara Occidental (Sahraouis). L’objectif principal de ce projet est de produire de la nourriture fraîche (légumes et fruits) pour les réfugiés, en supplément au panier mensuel de l’alimentation offert par l’ONU.

Au moins un ingénieur agronome dans chacun des camps s’occupe du suivi de ce projet. Déjà en 2003, l’ingénieur Taleb BRAHIM a commencé à cultiver des légumes dans son jardin privé au camp de Smara.

Aujourd’hui, il me fait parvenir un petit rapport et quelques photos. Lors de mes visites à Smara en Mai et Décembre 2006, j’ai pris des photos que je joins à son message. La conclusion générale est que des légumes peuvent aisément être cultivés dans cette partie du Sahara (S.W. Algérie), en particulier en utilisant le conditionneur de sol TerraCottem, qui nous laisse épargner beaucoup d’eau et d’engrais.

Continue reading “Jardins familiaux dans le désert Sahara en Algérie”

Family gardens in the Sahara desert of Algeria

Within the framework of UNICEF’s nutrition program in Algeria, a project was launched to construct family gardens in the refugee camps of the people of the Western Sahara (Sahraouis). The main objective of this project is to provide fresh food (vegetables and fruits) to the refugees as a supplement to the monthly food basket offered by UNO.

In each of these camps at least one agronomist takes care of the follow-up of this project. Already in 2003, ir. Taleb BRAHIM started growing vegetables in his private garden in the camp of Smara.

Today, he sents me a short report and some pictures. As I visited him in Smara in May and December 2006, I am adding my pictures of his garden to this message. The general conclusion is that vegetables can be grown quite easily in this part of the Sahara (S.W. Algeria), in particular when using the soil conditioner TerraCottem, saving a lot of water and fertilizer.

Continue reading “Family gardens in the Sahara desert of Algeria”


 I read regularly the newsletter of the African Crops News Service (ACNS), called “AFRICAN CROP NEWS“. It is a very interesting publication, in particular for those interested in food production in Africa, but also for a broader group of people interested in plant production under difficult conditions. The newsletter is “Delivering news. Improving crops“. In its Christmas 2006 edition, I found this information on a brochure that could interest many readers amongst us. Please have a look at http://www.africancrops.net/news/dec06/brochure.pdf

Continue reading “AFRICAN CROP NEWS”

Success story with Opuntia in Brasil

Opuntia plantation
Nice Opuntia plantation, excellent yield in a short period

Planting spineless varieties of Opuntia can be very rewarding, not only to combat desertification, but also to produce fodder for animals. These varieties are growing quickly with a minimum of water in the drylands, like the ones in the very dry Nordeste of Brasil (see pictures).

Rows of Opuntia
Rows of cacti contribute to limit soil erosion

Cacti normally have a wide appeal to growers of ornamental plants, but they have only few economic uses. However, many cacti produce edible fleshy fruits (raw, jam, syrup). Some species are used in living hedges or even for furniture. Commercial plantations of the “prickly pear” Opuntia are found in Brasil, Mexico and California.

Rows 2
Rows on the contour lines

The disk- or racketlike, superposed parts of the Opuntia stems can be used as fodder. Goats, sheep and cows eat the fresh disks, cut into slices. One can also have the sliced disks sundried, grinded to flour and mixed with a bit of water for animal consumption.

Continue reading “Success story with Opuntia in Brasil”

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