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The winners of the competition “Best School Mini Garden - 2023” were awarded at the school Neghots Basic School of Lori

The third Best School Mini Garden competition, launched by UN World Food Program, the Ministry of Education, Science, Culture and Sports of Armenia, the Russian Social and Industrial Foodservice Institute, and the “School Feeding and Child Welfare” Agency, concluded with a celebratory Award Ceremony held at Neghots Basic School (Lori Marz).

The objective of the event was to summarize the results of the competition, to reward the winners and to cheer the achievements of all the participant schools.

From March to November, schoolchildren throughout Armenia made great efforts in cultivating mini-gardens near their school, with the great help from the teachers, headmasters, parents and communities. Twenty schools from 10 marzes participated in the competition, submitting their projects for evaluation. Following a thorough consideration and assessment by the Selection Committee, Neghots Basic School won the first prize of the competition and became the host of the Award ceremony. Gegharkunik Secondary School (Gegharkunik marz) won the second place, Vanadzor Basic School N23 after Tsovakal Isakov (Lori marz) took the honorable third prize. Sisian Basic School N2 (Syunik marz) and Meghradzor Secondary School after H. Hakobyan (Kotayk marz) secured the fourth and the fifth positions.

Among the guests of the Ceremony there were participant schools, competition organizers, Selection committee members, and of course, the main heroes of the day - the children, whose efforts made the winning dream garden move from picture to reality

The ceremony was opened by the head of the School Feeding and Child Welfare Agency Satenik Mkrtchyan. She introduced the organizers of the competition and conveyed words of support from the Ministry of Education, Science, Culture and Sports of the Republic of Armenia and the regional governor of Lori: “We had the opportunity to feel the same joy and delight that the winning schools experience today while studying the schools’ projects. In fact, all participating schools are winners. After all, they showed their students how they can achieve their dreams with their own strength and work.”

WFP representative Maria Muradyan spoke about the goals, impact and significance of the competition. She also thanked the children, school and parents, noting that participation and victory in the competition is the result of their joint work.

SIFI and SFCW representatives talked about the Selection process and criteria, as well as the valuable prizes that the schools had won. The first place was awarded with 3000 usd grant, the second place with a food dehydrator, the third place with a freezer. The 4th and 5th places received sets of pots and knives. The schools’ headmasters were awarded with honorable certificates. The certificates of participation will be sent to all the participant schools in a virtual way.

Neghots Basic School's headmaster Arevik Sosinyan greeted the guests and showcased their garden project, which was followed by presentations of the projects from schools securing 2nd to 5th positions.

One of the stages of the competition claimed that the schools held a drawing competition on the theme “My dream garden” among the primary school children. The schools developed their mini-gardens inspired by those pictures. The exhibition showcasing 20 exceptional drawings was another highlight of the ceremony.

SIFI representative Oksana Zotova noted that working in the school garden can be made fun, and participation in the competition allowed children to see that dreams can be made reality. She also presented a new board game, “Dream Garden,” released as part of the School Feeding Programme, which will be presented to young artists from all participating schools.

The event concluded with primary school students from Neghots Basic School presenting a harvest fest performance․ Then they invited the guests to play a victorine inspired by the school-minigarden theme - a game that they made themselves via mobile application. The children acted as hosts and the guests had an opportunity to try to answer the questions about gardening.

The competition is an integral component of the School Feeding Programme and its aim is to promote the creation of school gardens across the country. Its purpose is not only to bring a range of fresh vegetables and herbs for school meals, but also to raise an interest in organic farming among children from an early age and to teach them the basics of land cultivating.

The contest became an outstanding platform for schools to exhibit their creativity, innovation, and dedication in promoting education of sustainable agriculture and healthy eating habits among students.