As part of its mission and outreach program to develop sustainable communities, the Institute for Art and Culture (IAC) identified the low-income Sher Shah Colony in its vicinity, off Raiwind Road, for the pilot phase of a community gardens program. Government Girls High School in Sher Shah Colony, with the dedicated supervision of its Principal Mrs Zeb un Nisa and a total of 70 students and 10 teachers from grades 7 to 10, are participating in this pilot phase. The organizations that are providing support to the project include ‘Gardening for All’, ‘The Little Arts’ and ‘Adventure Foundation Pakistan’. Professor Sajida Vandal, Vice Chancellor IAC has taken keen interest in furthering the program and Professor Dr. Ali Akbar Husain, landscape expert and Professor at the School of Architecture, Design and Urbanism, IAC, has largely facilitated it
The workshop series began on 13th October 2020 and will continue until December 8. Of the eight workshops planned during this period, three have already taken place at the Government Girls High School, Sher Shah Colony. The workshops aim to provide hands-on training to the girls together with their teachers, the idea being that, once trained themselves, the teachers will, in future, carry out the training themselves without assistance from IAC faculty and other volunteers The workshops held covered topics such as health and nutrition and the benefits of consuming home-grown produce, the importance of organic food, the economic benefits of growing vegetables as a community, the types of vegetables to grow as per season, methods of preparing planting beds, soil mixes and seed and seedling planting. The young trainees worked on the planting beds with great enthusiasm.
The general idea behind a community garden is that a single plot of land, lying vacant, or owned by local authorities, a non-profit organization, or a school, is turned into a communal vegetable garden that can be nurtured by individuals within the community. A community garden can help to build, or restore, a sense of community spirit, bring the joy of gardening to the community, provide a means of local food production, promote healthy life styles and cleaner environments and, above all, provide a means of income generation to the community as a whole, making for self-sufficiency, community empowerment, and involvement.
Assisted by garden experts, professional bodies, and volunteers, IAC seeks to ensure the long-term continuity of this project by providing appropriate training at both public and private-sector schools and with the active and whole-hearted involvement of the schools together with the communities they represent.