In the lead up to the event, we asked coordinators Jane Karanja and John Kariuki for an update on progress in their home country.
: Our small-scale farmers produce the highest proportion of food in the country, yet unfortunately they live lives of poverty, isolation, hunger and malnutrition.
Tell us about the Thousand Garden in Africa project in Kenya?
: Our goal is to create 200 gardens in Kenya during 2011-2012 across Kenya, from Mombasa on the eastern coast to Homa Bay in the west.
: Parents were reluctant to get their children involved in the food gardens at first, as in Kenya agriculture has always been used as punishment for students who don't do well at school.
: I think what one teacher told me sums it up well.
said, we are not doing it so that all the children become farmers; we are doing it because whatever they do, they will have to choose what to eat every day for the rest of their lives.
This starts them on the right path to understanding where food comes from and making thoughtful decisions.
You can become anything, but you will always have to eat.
What do you hope will be achieved from the project?
JOHN: More than anything, I hope that the young people involved will take a more positive attitude to food production and understand that a respectful career and income doesn't necessarily mean becoming an engineer, doctor, or pilot, but can also be earned by practicing sustainable agriculture.
: Bringing participants of the Thousand Gardens project together will help us realize the scale and importance of this project, and that despite our different cultural and socio-economic backgrounds we are one united group committed to changing the African food system.
By the end of the workshop we will have discussed the methods in the handbook thoroughly and expect to come up with best-practice models for school, community and family gardens so everyone is ready to move forward.
Jane Karanja and John Kariuki
are graduates from the University of Gastronomic Sciences
and coordinators of the Thousand Gardens in Africa project in Kenya.
John is vice-president of Slow Food International.