Greetings from SPI!
We are excited to share with you some updates about our programs in Poland and Ukraine. Sadly, Russian hostilities continue in Ukraine, causing close to 1.4 million Ukrainians to seek refuge in Poland and 7 million Ukrainians to be internally displaced and away from their homes within Ukraine. SPI is currently working with organizations in Poland and Ukraine to support gardening programs to increase food supply and create place-connection during a time of crisis.
Our Resiliency Gardens program was created to support schools in Poland that have welcomed Ukrainian refugees into their communities. This program was founded by SPI Board Member, June Lavelle, who resides in Poland. The program is supporting seven schools for this current school year and the students are excited to learn about plants, soil, and gardening. Materials are being purchased to create the gardens and plans are being created for the spring planting season. Programs range from primary school through high school and are supported with educational materials from KidsGardening.org and Trips Beyond the Classroom, a Poland based outdoor education organization. The students are excited to be outside and participate in hands-on learning activities.
We are also starting some programs in Ukraine to support Ukrainians that are internally displaced within their country. We partnered with UCare to purchase 1,000 fruit trees that will be planted this fall and winter in the de-occupied regions of Ukraine. This program aims to restore life to regions that have been liberated from hostilities. A portion of each harvest will be donated to food relief efforts. We are also working to develop a therapeutic gardening program that can be used to supplement mental health services for adults and children that have experienced the trauma of war. Gardening can relieve stress, increase a sense of security, and reduce anxiety.
Another partnership we recently formed is with EDGE to support their SURGe program to plant Victory Gardens in Ukraine. This program will start in the winter and will create a community garden in Volochysk and school gardens in Kamyanets-Podilskyi, Kyiv, and Zorivka. These programs will serve as pilot programs to develop a toolkit for urban gardening and a pathway to promote urban gardening in city planning and policy creation. The toolkit could then be used by other schools and community centers to create urban gardens and the participating teachers would act as mentors to support expansion of the program.
Our Ukrainian solidarity bloom initiative is still underway. Applewood Seed Co. donated a blue and yellow flower seed mix to SPI. The mix can be planted in the spring to grow a living message of solidarity. Email us a UKRsolidarity@seedprograms.org to request packets of seed. You can also send us pictures of your garden that we will post to our website (www.seedprograms.org/ukr) and share with our partners in Poland and Ukraine.
If you have any questions or want to learn more about our programs, then please reach out. We would love to hear from you. Please stay tuned for more updates about this program.
The SPI team