As Ghana’s capital Accra expands, green spaces have diminished and fast food is starting to become a norm; however, agriculturist Lauren Goodwin wants to ensure that children understand where their food comes from - and how to grow it themselves.
Tucked away in one of Accra’s few green spaces, children are spending their school holiday learning about ethical agriculture and healthy living.
Ghana, like many nations across the world, is seeing a rise in fast food consumption and the associated health risks. Fried local street food and fast food restaurants are common sights throughout the capital.
Goodwin, founder of the Under the Mango Tree Camp, says she sees people, especially in cities, becoming disconnected from their food source.
"I know that children need to be a part of this. This can’t be a conversation that we just keep for adults, it can’t be, you know. We are growing and we have our young people that are coming up; it’s so important they are exposed to this thing. They need to know how food grows,” Goodwin said.
This month, the children have been learning about all aspects of ethical agriculture, from composting to creating natural pesticides. The camp is held at a park where the children like Björn Brinkmann have been able to plant herbs and vegetables.
"I have been planting, germinating, sowing, harvesting and also sometimes we taste the herbs and sometimes we brought some of the vegetables home,” Brinkmann said.
Goodwin, who emigrated from the United States to Ghana, worries about the health impact poor diets have on black communities.
Educating children about the power of plants will also empower their families - and eventually the wider community, she says.
Albertina Naa Adorkor Allotey, a camp facilitator at Under the Mango Tree helps camper Björn Brinkmann harvest some herbs.
Parents say the camp is both informative and fun for their children. They come home from the day camp eager to share their new knowledge, says one mother, Aziza Atta.
“I think physically it’s great, socially it’s great. In terms of their understanding of nature and how things work, and how things have a source and cycle, and you need to plant something and it grows, then you harvest it and this is how you do it. You don’t just go to the supermarket and buy things; it’s that thinking process,” Atta said.
Goodwin hopes the seeds the camp plants today will inspire the youngsters to lead the movement for healthy food and ethical agriculture in Ghana.