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Tikondane Garden Program

“This is my commandment, that ye love one another, even as I have loved you.”

JOHN 15:12

Program Overview

The Tikondane Garden is a pilot program designed to offer young men a chance to learn a life skill, earn a wage, and help win the ongoing battle with hunger. Tikondane means “love one another,” in Nyanja, the local language. It is a name taken from John 13:34, which says, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” This ministry has currently employed 10 young men who are serving approximately 100 households in Ngombe. They have a new team leader as well.

The goal of the Tikondane Garden Project is to employ youth to assist local families in establishing backyard gardens. This helps create food security and availability at the household level. Learning to plant and tend a backyard garden is a skill that not only feeds hungry mouths in a few short weeks, but also impacts the future of the community by providing a means of growing food locally.

The Tikondane gardens include tomatoes, cabbages, and root vegetables that grow well, are easy to plant and tend, require little land, and produce a bountiful harvest—enough to feed a family and perhaps provide additional income.

How It Works

1. We recruit, train, and employ young men to plant and care for ten backyard gardens each. As we scale we will probably hire young women as well, but the initial emphasis was to create a program for the boys of the community. Think of it like an old fashioned paper-route, except with a watering can.

2. Each team member visits the gardens under his care twice a day, in the morning and afternoon, for watering and to check on the progress of the plants.

3. We hired a local agriculture teacher named James to supervise the program and ensure the small gardens are healthy and well managed.

4. Each team member is given boots, uniforms, watering cans, tools, seedlings and any other supplies they need to accomplish the goals. They feel incredibly proud to have a good job and make money serving their community.

5. As they establish a new garden, they discuss progress with the households and include them in the process – letting them know that the goal is to train them so they can do it themselves and carry on the process after a few seasons of growing.

6. The average growth cycle is three months from planting to harvesting, so it’s a quick turnaround before the family begins to realize the benefits.

What’s The Impact?

Gardening in these backyard plots is truly love in action, providing a viable means of supplementing the family meals, furnishing seeds for sustainable gardening, and eventually affording additional income for families. The young men employed learn methods of supporting backyard gardens, receive vocational training, and then teach others methods for the people of Ngombe to grow their own food to improve their community.

This ministry has currently employed 10 young men who are serving approximately 100 households in Ngombe. Since each household averages nine residents, this means the Tikondane program is serving around 900 people! Thanks to generous donations, each teen hired has been outfitted with protective clothing, tools, water buckets, and gardening boots. In the Tikondane program, these teens learn the value of working daily as well as serving others. An added benefit of the program is that many of these teens re-enroll in school with their wages.