A clean vegetable-growing model is being applied at a kindergarten in a coastal province of central Vietnam, providing fresh vegetables and enabling the children to explore how the plants are farmed.
At Tay Ho Kindergarten in Phu Ninh District, Quang Nam Province, teachers raise funds for the vegetable garden and parents also join in taking care of it, which is located on the peschool's campus.
It is a 500-square-meter garden where a wide variety of vegetables are grown.
“Now the preschool no longer buys vegetables to cook meals for our students because we can cultivate enough greens,” headmaster Dinh Kim Nga said.
“Additionally, the children get to experience the garden and explore new things,” she added, implying that many kids nowadays lack practical experience and real-life understanding.
According to the headmaster, three years ago a matter of unclean vegetables reached its peak and worried many parents and teachers, so the headmaster and her staff decided to make use of the preschool’s grand campus to start growing vegetables.
The parents were very supportive and started coming to the preschool to help with gardening and improving the soil.
With a starting area of 100 square meters, the garden was expanded to 500 square meters, and it now consists of three sections farming 40 different kinds of vegetable and fruit popular with Vietnamese meals such as sweet potatoes, morning glory plants, pumpkins, watermelons, melons and cucumbers, among others.
From an arid piece of land, the garden can now provide enough vegetables for 150 kindergarteners and over 10 teachers.
Even though it is only a garden of a preschool, it is similar to a miniature village which is a perfect place for children to visit for outdoor lessons.
The teachers have also learnt to be creative in recycling plastic water bottles and tires to turn them into watering tools and pots in the garden for the kids to learn how to take care of vegetables.
Extracurricular activity for kids
Preschool teachers believe that the garden makes it a lot easier for them to teach the children
“Instead of having to show the children different types of vegetable on television, we would take the children to gardens,” Vo Doan Khanh Vy, a teacher at Tay Ho Kindergarten, said, adding that the teachers can also get their students excited by letting them care for various plants or water the vegetables.
According to headmaster Nga, a green and beautiful garden is just not enough as all teachers and parents have to guarantee the vegetables are planted with no excessive fertilizers and pesticides.
Hence, the preschool encourages parents to contribute organic fertilizers, and to never use chemical fertilizers or any pesticides.
“Having a garden on campus will reduce the cost for buying vegetables, so more money would be spent on fish and meat,” Nga said.
“The vegetables are also sold to our teachers to raise funds for new seeds and organic fertilizers, guaranteeing the operations of the garden for longer periods of time,” the headmaster added.
A similar model is being implemented at 11 other kindergartens, a result of a competition organized by Department of Education and Training of Phu Ninh District in April 2019.
Nguyen Thi Nhang, deputy director of the Phu Ninh Department of Education and Training, had a high opinion of the efficiency of gardens at kindergartens across the district and she also expressed her appreciation for the schools’ determination in building and maintaining the clean vegetable gardens, with many of such places even experimenting with hydroponic models.
“Preschools featuring beautiful and green gardens not only beautify the area but also help familiarize children with the surrounding environment, while teaching the kids soft skills and nurturing a love for working in them,” Nhang said.