Our vegetable gardens go a long way in providing a daily lunch for over 800 people at our schools. 


The gardens also help parents who can’t afford to pay tuition ($0.63 - $1.90 per month per child), as they can choose to work in the garden instead of paying cash. One day’s work covers one month of school. Other parents pay off surgeries their children have had through their work in the garden, or by providing us with manure for fertilizer.

Our staff is learning a lot about gardening and gaining valuable experience as we work with composting, organic farming, permaculture, vermiculture, and even some biodynamic methods. Volunteers
share their ideas and skills to help us make the most of our gardens.

 Permaculture Gardens

What to do when the precious water of the rainy season washes away the nutrients in the soil on your hillside gardens?

Lukas Url, a Swiss landscaper, and environmental watchdog came to us, like a gift, to show us how to both save water and help the gardens thrive. The answer - ‘permaculture’.

Permaculture speaks to a whole set of farming principles that mimic nature and help the environment while growing healthy food. 

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Permaculture (short for permanent agriculture) uses natural techniques to help the fertility and create more ideal growing conditions for plants. It is ‘permanent’ in the sense that one intercrops trees, bushes and vines with annual vegetables, so the gardens are always producing something. Their roots hold the soil on our terraced, hillside vegetable beds, the leaves of the trees make shade and add mulch to the soil (humus), and the ditches (swales) hold water long enough for it to seep slowly into the soil, where it is available to the roots.


We have taken the first step towards self-sufficiency - we’ve started a farm with laying hens. We have built a strong hen house and have 250 laying hens who are managing to lay eggs that we sell daily to local stores within a one hour walk of our school.  

We have the same goal for the farm as for our gardens: produce food, contribute to the local economy and people, and use best practices for the environment.

  • The eggs provide a welcome protein source in the villagers' diet, as few can afford meat.
  • The money raised through the sale of eggs helped the committee last year to build a small barn and stock it with ducks to raise and resell.
  • The care of the flock provides training and employment for local people.
  • The hens also provide fertilizer for our gardens.

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Madagascar's soil is being washed into the Indian Ocean.

Madagascar has lost more than 90% of its forests due to a growing population, unsusutainable agricultural practices, and resource extraction such as land clearing to grow food and cash crops, graze cattle, or harvest wood to export or use as fuel.

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Deforestation combined with weathering and naturally occurring soil conditions has resulted in catastrophic soil erosion, environmental degradation, and a lack of habitat for indigenous species. In some areas, as much as 250 metric tons of soil is washed into the ocean each year.  

Reforestation is critical to the environment, the Malagasy people, and the national economy, so we're planting trees. We've chosen a variety of fruit-bearing, medicinal and nitrogen-fixing species that are indigenous to Madagascar. We've started on school lands, with parents and students planting and caring for the trees, and have extended the project into the villages.

The rivers run red.

The soil is carried down from the central highlands into streams, rivers, and finally into the ocean while leaving the hillsides bare and severely degraded. Astronauts report that they can always locate Madagascar from space as the island is surrounded by a cloud of red - the soil washed off the island and into the ocean.

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