In celebration of International Women’s Day and Women’s History Month, this story highlights how women in Ghana are working to strengthen their communities and how the Forest Service supports the endeavors of women worldwide.
In western Ghana’s major coastal city, Sekondi-Takoradi, 100 school children have become urban farmers thanks to the vision of two women. A portion of their school grounds are now pesticide-free vegetable gardens providing school lunches with fresh tomatoes, cucumber and okra.
Magdeline Appiah, 12, took the skills she learned at school and started her own vegetable garden at home. She supplies fresh produce for her family’s meals and earns an income by selling her surplus.
“I have developed a passion for farming, and it’s yielded so many results. I’m elated,” Appiah said.
Meet Faustina Arkhurst and Mary Perpetua Kwakuyi: the two champions of the urban farming project.
Faustina Arkhurst is the principal of Tessark International School and provided the vision behind smart agriculture being included in the curriculum. She’s the daughter of a farmer and is passionate about environmental stewardship and nutrition.
Arkhurst met Mary Perpetua Kwakuyi, founder of Goshen Global Vision, during a city-wide tree planting initiative in Sekondi-Takoradi. Akhurst’s students were some of the hundreds of people who showed up to line the road medians with native seedlings, planting fruit trees and shrubs in public spaces.
The event helped to spark Arkhurst’s idea to bring agriculture into the classroom.
“I visited Goshen’s nurseries after the event. I loved all the greenery. I wanted our children to be involved and to learn,” said Arkhurst.
Goshen Global Vision is a grantee of the Forest Service, and our International Programs helped them to refine their nursery practices and encouraged them to build relationships with the community and government.
Arkhurst approached Ms. Kwakuyi about starting a demonstration farm on Tessark International School grounds. The results – in both produce and learning – have been transformative for the student body.
The demonstration farms are helping students learn how to identify vegetable seeds, propagate seedlings, maintain a nursery and plant their vegetables and trees in small spaces with recycled containers – sacks, old car tires and used plastics.
“We’ve made so many gains through the project. I’ve already relocated the existing school garden to allow for more space and more student participation,” said Arkhurst.
Tessark school is now preparing for the next phase of the smart agriculture project – mushroom farming. Arkhurst expects it to further augment the school feeding program, expand student skills and position the school to become a model for other schools looking to embrace a smart agriculture curriculum.
“We are thrilled with the results, and plan to support more schools and households in the Sekondi-Takoradi metropolis. We can help school and families augment their nutrition and income and make western Ghana a greener place to live,” said Ms. Kwakuyi.
Under Ms. Kwakuyi’s leadership, Goshen Global Vision has planted, nurtured, and mapped (for planning and accountability) 220,000 native trees species on 11,000 hectares (27,000 acres) of landscape in western Ghana. This in addition to her school and household smart agriculture projects. After only three years of operation, Goshen Global Vision won an AFR100 grant for top African NGOs in afforestation.
Visit Goshen Global Vision to learn more about the work they are doing and how you can get involved.