"The competition is periodic, it is held every year. As a result, school grounds are well-maintained and well-kept, children learn to take care of their environment, develop knowledge and skills about plant breeding, get results from their work, and use the harvest to have healthy food in school canteens".
Zhanna Andreasyan, Minister of Education, Science, Culture, and Sports.
On the 16th of December the Award ceremony of the Best School Mini Garden Competition 2022 was held in Gegharkunik secondary school of Gegharkunik region. The host school took the 1st winning place.
It’s already the second year that the World Food Programme (WFP), together with its partners: School Feeding and Child Welfare Agency (SFCW) and SIFI launches the Best School Mini Garden Competition across all schools of regions in Armenia.
The competition has become a real inspiration for schools to create their gardens, where they, together with teachers, students and parents, grow organic products with love and care, both for sale and for their school canteen.
Vegetables and herbs go directly from the garden into the students' plates, supplementing the school menu with a variety of vitamins and minerals. And the gardens themselves become a platform for practical training of children in the natural sciences and the basics of land use.
The event was opened by Ani Torosyan, from the School Feeding and Child Welfare Agency. She congratulated the participants and noted that the competition is an important component of the school healthy life and nutritious meals.
Mr. Safaryan, the head of the department of Education of the Gegharkunik marzpetaran mentioned that since 2011, the UN Sustainable School Feeding Programme has been implemented in the Gegharkunik region, ensuring a healthy educational process and environment for children.
Maria Muradyan from the UN WFP, congratulated the award-winning schools. She stated that the Sustainable School Feeding Programme has been operating for ten years. The programme has grown and developed, becoming a broad educational platform that promotes healthy eating behavior and contributes to the development of schools and communities. She also informed that now WFP started the process of establishing a greenhouse at the Gegharkunik school, which will be opened at the beginning of the next year.
Schools presented their projects and shared interesting stories and experiences.
The winner has received a grant of $3,000 to improve their garden and the school menu. The runner-up school of Stepanavan N2 (Lori region) was awarded with a dehydrator to produce dried fruits from its harvest and the school in Nor Geghi (Kotayk region), which won third place, was awarded with a freezer for freezing and storing products grown in their garden.
However, the good work and competently organized gardens are not limited to the three schools. Therefore, the organizers added two more nominations: “The Best Ecological Project'' was given to Vanadzor Basic School N8 (Lori region), which conducted a soil analysis in the laboratory, attended special trainings on composting and gardening, prepared fertilizers themselves, and also “The Best Scientific Approach” nomination was given to Norashen Secondary School named after R. Harutyunyan (Aragatsotn region). They used a scientific approach for cultivating the garden: the mushroom cultures mykoriza to enrich the soil.
The competition was held in two stages. In the first stage 55 schools submitted applications for participation in the competition. In the second stage where the main requirement was to send complete packages, complying with the rules of the competition, participated 24 schools. The winners were selected from these received final packages.
The Selection Committee was formed from six local and international organizations together with the Ministry of Education, Science, Culture and Sport. The schools were judged on their ability to use the gardens as an education platform, and involve the children in planning, maintaining and nurturing the garden.
All 24 schools that entered the competition received a certificate of appreciation for dedication, exceptional efforts and innovative approaches of school staff and children.