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USD 3000 for best school mini garden: competition second round kicks off in Armenia

Hermine Baghdasaryan, Seyran Antonyan | News, Armenian Public TV

The children triumphantly dig up turnips. Thanks to the rich harvest yielded by the small garden where they worked all season, the students of the Gegharkunik village school earned USD 3000 for winning the Best School Mini Garden 2022 competition.

This year, the UN World Food Programme (WFP), the Ministry of Education, Science, Culture and Sports of the Republic of Armenia, and SIFI are holding the competition for the fourth time.
“There are currently 35 participants from 7 marzes of Armenia. The registration stage ended on April 1, and the second stage, during which schools must submit their projects, is underway,” SIFI representative Ani Kazaryan said.
The main condition for participation is that the school must be covered by the WFP School Feeding Programme. Notably, the Best Windowsill Garden nomination was introduced this year, and the schools that do not have a vegetable garden or a plot can try growing micro-vegetables or micro-greens in pots inside the school building.
“The idea is to teach schoolchildren how to grow an environmentally friendly and abundant harvest without using pesticides,” explains Satenik Mkrtchyan, the head of the School Feeding and Child Welfare Agency. “This competition will help teach children the idea of innovative agriculture. We will also show how to achieve goals through teamwork. Witnessing the principle “from garden to plate” with their own eyes, from soil loosening and seed sprouting to a healthy dish on the table, the children go through these stages together.”
According to Ms. Mkrtchyan, the initiative is inspiring. In addition to caring for the garden, young students prepare salads and snacks in the school canteen with the help of adults, come up with their own recipes, and submit them along with photos and videos to join the competition.
“One school invented an interesting exercise game we are going to publish. They used the length and width of beds and rows to study mathematics. We will try to make such an interesting approach accessible to other children,” she said.
The project organizers confess that evaluation is the hardest part of the competition. The jury has to assess everything, from agricultural activities to children’s creativity in decorating the garden. The level of involvement of parents, teachers, and community members is also crucial.
“The best school mini garden will be selected by August 1,” Ani Kazaryan says. “The winning school will receive USD 3000 to improve the garden, for example, to install an irrigation system. The amount can also be used to purchase equipment for the school canteen as part of the school meals programme.
Organizers note that the competition teaches primary school children precious agricultural and teamwork skills and how to lose with good grace. When they see schools that perform better, they work harder to win next time.
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