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You Can't Learn If You're Hungry!

It’s official! The Nancy Ellen Crooks Foundation has launched Nancy’s Gardens!

Nancy’s Gardens was inspired by Nancy’s concern about school children's access to nutritious food and their dietary well-being. She would often visit schools where children could not learn due to hunger pains; some would even pass out during the school day, from lack of food.

Nancy’s Gardens will provide children in school and orphanage communities access to a variety of healthy food. This will be accomplished through the development of kitchen gardens which will feed their community and generate funds for additional food. Our aim is to educate children on how to grow their own food organically, and feed themselves, fellow pupils and the community.

School and community gardens can help reduce hunger by promoting sustainable agriculture, allow for the creation of social ties and most importantly improve nutrition and increase the consumption of fruits and vegetables.

On June 5th, World Environment Day, the Nancy Ellen Crooks Foundation donated 50 Pawpaw seedlings (Papaya) to the dedicated children and passionate team at Village to Global School in Vihiga County, Western Kenya.

Village to Global School, although new, has already made a tremendous impact on the community in the past six months. It serves 140 children from seven villages in Western Kenya. The community surrounding the school relies on subsistence farming on small shambas (personal farms), giving them access to vegetables. None of the community members grow fruit in their shambas which doesn’t make for a well balanced diet. Because of this, the founder of Village to Global has of goal of providing his students with one fruit a week.

Upon hearing of their need for fruits, NECF decided this was the perfect opportunity to launch Nancy’s Gardens and help provide the students of Village to Global School with fruit.

Just two days later, the NECF team traveled to Kajiado County in Southern Kenya (formerly part of Rift Valley Province) to plant our second fruit garden of 20 pawpaw trees and watermelon seed at Olturoto Children's Village (OCV). OCV is a children's home which open in June 2014. Since then, several children have benefited from their program, which aims to provide transitional, family-based, quality, alternative care to orphaned and vulnerable children.

The home is in the middle of one of the most arid areas of Kenya, but the team at OCV have done their best to provide a homely, sustainable space for the children to grow. OCV has a thriving vegetable garden but like Village to Global, the children there lack regular access to fruit. They were thrilled to receive this gifts and can’t wait to for their first harvest of fruits!

NECF chose pawpaw as our first fruit for the project for numerous reasons, the most important being that a pawpaw tree will produce fruit in less than nine months and from then, provide fruit continuously! This means that by March 2019, the children will already be enjoying fresh pawpaw right from their backyard. This will not only provide the students with nourishing vitamins found in pawpaw, but will also tremendously reduce the costs of purchasing fruit for the children. Additionally, surplus fruit can be sold to the community, enabling the school to have extra funds to maintain their fruit garden.

Additionally, pawpaw seedlings are inexpensive. For less then $70, NECF was able to provide both programs with pawpaw seedlings, watermelon seeds and cultivation tools.

In addition to gardens, NECF aims to install playgrounds at both Village to Global School and Olturoto Children's Village and bring more happiness to these children.

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