Each week I join the young people from the local community as they learn about sustainable development, agriculture and key gardening skills. The teacher gives classes both in the classroom and out in the garden, with the aim of spreading knowledge of sustainable practices and giving the students the tools and confidence to take on gardening as a profession. I always find these lessons very interesting and every week I am learning new skills and facts.
When the weather allows, the students at Pacheco have practical outdoor classes. The group have a set of goals for their outdoor garden space and greenhouse and with each class comes a to-do list of tasks in order to move towards these goals. The outdoor sessions vary each week sometimes sowing seeds and planting new fruits, vegetables or herbs, or rearranging and creating new spaces for planting. Students also maintain the growing areas and the grass, and work in the greenhouse. The students now have an impressive gardening knowledge and after brief instructions and a few pointers from their teacher, they work speedily and skilfully through their tasks, whilst still finding time to chat and laugh together. Every couple of hours the group breaks to share a well-deserved mate and reflect on the progress.
The students also have indoor classes in their classroom, learning vital background information about sustainable development and agriculture to support their practical work. The students sit together with mate and biscuits, sharing ideas and reading and discussing texts. The classroom walls are filled with A3 posters full of notes and ideas on various topics, written by the students. Everyone is encouraged to participate and question anything that they don’t understand and the students are always very enthusiastic.
My favourite thing about the lessons at Pacheco is the closeness of the group and how the comfort and informality of the classes encourages everyone to share their ideas. It makes the experience more light-hearted and enjoyable. A very pleasant way to spend a Wednesday afternoon!