The Project of “Addressing Causes for Poverty and Ensuring Food Security for Farming Communities” funded by Caritas Norway is being implemented by Caritas SED Galle to establish 2000 Home gardens in Galle, Matara and Hambantota Districts. The Home Vegetable Garden Program seeks to increase access to healthy food for low income residents through establishing home gardens and providing one on one garden support at family homes, Community Knowledge Centers, Schools and Religious Institutions. Program participants are provided free seedlings, seeds, and other necessary tools and supplies as well. As necessary trainings, home gardening provide participants with opportunities to build resilience through increased community engagement, opportunities for inter-generational experience and improvements in their health from exercise and increased consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables.
This partnership (Between University of Colombo Institute for Agro-technology and Rural Sciences, ,Weligatta and Caritas SED Galle &) will be paired with a garden mentor to provide extra support to help them reach their goals, whether it be help with water management, soil erosion control, pest management, or spending more time with their families outside.
Mentors will assist new gardeners in setting and reaching their garden goals through one-on- one coaching and sharing resources from growing hope. Gardening can be a venue for achieving many personal goals, from spending time with loved ones, changing your diet, reconnecting with cultural traditions and more. Growing Hope will pair up mentees and mentors based on shared interest and skills.
Under this Mentor Programme, Caritas SED Galle has linked around 100 home garden farmers with the 3rd year Undergraduates of University of Colombo Institute for Agro-technology and Rural Sciences, Weligatta.
The mentoring interacting sessions (exposure visits) on 25th and 26th of March 2023
A list of farmer families was sent to the University with their names, DS and GN Divisions, their contact telephone numbers and their accommodation preferences for males/females etc. Thereafter the 3rd year students in the University were linked with these farmer families as mentors for uplifting farmers home gardens and also to build up relations with them. It was also discussed and agreed that undergraduate mentors will prepare a development plan after the mentoring interacting session with the assistance of the mentee after visiting the home gardens of these mentees.
The interacting sessions (exposure visits) and accommodation for the mentors were arranged as follows:
The students were picked from the University at Weligatta on 25th March 2023 at 5.00 am and brought to Hambantota by 7.30 AM. Students for Matara were brought to Mirissa between 7.30 – 8.00 AM. However it was 9.00 AM when students were brought to Galle. The mentor students were handed over to host farmer families after a brief explanation of the programme.
There were 36 mentors from the University including 06 Muslims. The Sinhalese students were accommodated in 22 houses. The Muslim students stayed with 03 Sinhalese families. The muslim families living in close proximity helped Muslim students to break their fast by providing iftar.
There were 30 mentor students who were accommodated in 28 houses.
The 30 student mentors were accommodated in 28 houses.
This partnership mentor programme and the interacting sessions (exposure visits) between Undergraduate students of University of Colombo Institute for Agro-technology and Rural Sciences, Weligatta and Farmer families of Caritas SED Galle proved most fruitful and successful.