A secret garden in the shanty towns

Our project enhances an undeveloped site in our shanty town area, transforming it into a walled kitchen garden, adding value to our existing children’s refuge and to the local community. This environmental project will offer economic, educational and employment opportunities.

Our work in the desert shanty towns near Lima is based on our children’s refuge. Project Peru acquired a new piece of empty desert land [approximately 1000 sq. metres in total], two blocks from the refuge, and where we plan eventually to build a much needed community centre and a hostel for the older boys when funds to build and then to run it permit. Meanwhile the land was currently bare sand partly surrounded by the walls of other buildings, with access to local unmade-up roads, and with potential access to services. During 2012 we undertook the rebuilding of the perimeter walls and secured the entrances, ensuring that we really could have a secret, walled garden.

With the much valued help of a professional agronomist in 2013 we undertook a programme of planting and environmental education involving our staff, our children and local people. This would eventually offer our children a sustainable source of nutrition, and an extra educational resource where they would learn the importance of producing some of their own food, helping to give them a balanced diet and some of the skills needed to help sustain the project in the future, and to make them and our whole project able to be more self-sufficient 

We prepared the irrigation system initially utilising an old well that was discovered on the site, using an electric pump and laying out the irrigation pipes, and the preparation of the rest of the ground as either a protected nursery garden for propagation of new seeds or for more delicate plants, an open kitchen garden, and a composting area.

Then followed the long awaited planting of the first seeds which was a joint effort by all the children, each with their allocation of seeds, following a group education session and careful instruction ...

.

... and a couple of weeks later!...

 and then...!

We have also provided some vegetables for a local soup kitchen that we support in Las Laderas:

  

In mid 2014 we started the second phase of our kitchen garden with the planting of our first fruit trees under the professional supervison of our agronomist and our gardener; the children will be involved over the years as the fruit trees grow. So far we have planted palta [avocado], limon [lemon], mandarina [mandarin], durazno [peach], chirimoya [custard apple] and lucuma [egg fruit].

        

Meanwhile our kitchen garden grows apace and we can now produce regular supplies of fresh herbs and vegetables for own consumption and we expect to be able to sell some produce too, particularly our cherry tomatoes.

 

An art project in the garden:

Some of our fruit trees about a year after planting;

 

Also see our News item: http://projectperu.org.uk/news/2015/11/06/our-first-potato-harvest.htm