The planting season is underway in Ukraine and Poland and our partners are creating gardens throughout the two counties. Did you know that gardening and the social interactions associated with gardening in groups have been documented to improve the psychological and cognitive well-being of people around the world? According to a literature review by Hall and Knuth (2019) in the Journal of Environmental Horticulture, gardens and green spaces can create positive emotional and mental health benefits, such as reduced anxiety and depression, mitigation of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and improved happiness, creativity, and self-esteem. Seed Programs International is happy to support gardening programs with your help!
In Poland, the Resiliency Gardens program is underway. 7 schools are participating in this program, which was founded and managed by SPI Board Member June Lavelle. Maly Domek school in Warsaw is one of the participating schools and has a robust program with educational support from Trips Beyond the Classroom. In Autumn, the children picked apples from their school apple trees to make apple pies. They also learned to make apple juice, which the children loved to drink! In Winter, the children learned about soil and built a worm farm, which they maintained throughout the winter. They enjoyed feeding the worms fruits and vegetables and watching them grow. In Spring, the students planted the garden outside in their planter boxes. The kids are really enjoying spending the day in the garden, watering the plants, and watching them flourish. Vegetables are now ready to harvest and the school plans to continue gardening next year.
In Ukraine, the Victory Gardens program with SURGe it underway. This program is supporting 5 projects in Ukraine: Community gardens in Volochysk and school gardens in Kyiv, Kamyanets-Podilskyi, Zhytomyr, and Zorivka. The program aims to create community activities and green spaces throughout Ukraine by increasing urban gardens, teaching gardening techniques, strengthening capacity, and developing shareable gardening toolkits. Over the winter, the Kamyanets-Podilskyi city program worked to renovate an existing greenhouse and created a teaching and mentoring program for the city’s teachers to develop expertise in school gardening. The program aims to promote and support gardening in all the city’s schools to teach children to nurture land and conscientiously use available resources from a young age. Teachers have participated in three seminars in school gardening, composting, and warm bed techniques. They also created a 10 step school garden manual and additional instructions that can be shared with other Ukrainian cities and schools. The renovated greenhouse is located at a local extracurricular center and is being used by their ecological and natural science department that supports over 100 school children in the city.
In Volochysk, SURGe and SPI supported a gardening program for 45 internally displaces people living at the Social Services Center. The program uses 20 hectares of land to garden potatoes, beets, carrots, zucchini, cucumbers, tomatoes, and greens for their lunches. The migrants also actively help manage and work the gardens. Mrs. Kateryna, a program participant said “Why sit idle? As long as I can move and be useful, I will do something to help.” The program also supports children with disablities that are being rehabilitated at the Center. The children are planting vegetable and spices in raised garden beds to supplement their lunches. You can read more about this program using this link.
Stay tuned for additional updates on these programs. If you would like to support these programs, please visit our Donation page: https://seedprograms.org/donate-now/ or visit our Support for Ukraine page to learn more about our programs and ways to get involved, including planting yellow and blue flowers for a solidarity bloom project: https://seedprograms.org/ukr/.
Thank you for your support!