A secret garden in the shanty towns

Our project has enhanced a previously 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 offers nutritional, economic, educational and employment opportunities.

Our principal work in the desert shanty towns near Lima is based on our children’s refuge. Project Peru acquired this new piece of empty desert land (approximately 1000m² total) a few blocks from the refuge, and where we also have since build a much-needed hostel for the older boys together with staff accommodation. Meanwhile the land, bare and sandy, partly surrounded by the walls of other buildings, had access to local unmade-up roads, and had 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 and our children. The aim? To offer our children a sustainable source of nutrition and help to give them a balanced diet, as well as an extra educational resource where they would learn the importance of producing some of their own food, to give them some of the skills and experience needed to help sustain the project in the future, and to make them and our whole project able to be more self-sufficient.

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 …

Our fruit tree project

In mid 2014 we started the second phase of our kitchen garden with the planting of our first fruit trees under the professional supervision of our agronomist and our gardener; the children have been involved over the years as the fruit trees have grown and begun to produce their fruit. Among other trees so far, we have planted palta (avocado), limón (lemon), mandarina (mandarin), naranja (orange), manzana (apple), durazno (peach), chirimoya (custard apple), lúcuma (eggfruit), maracuyá (passion fruit) and plátanos (bananas).

Meanwhile, our kitchen garden has grown apace and we can now produce regular supplies of fresh herbs and vegetables for own consumption.

Some produce ready for our own kitchen

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

Some other special features

An art project in the garden:

Pulling our first crop of yucca:

Our first oranges:

Some of our “prize” produce:

But we still need our weekly visit to some of our local markets …