Heritage Gardens span the generations

A group of north Mahé Wildlife Clubs of Seychelles banded together recently to visit the English River Home for the Elderly as the Heritage Gardens project took its first step outside Seychelles’ schools.

50 Wildlife Club members, accompanied by their Club leaders spent an afternoon at the Home for the Elderly where they learnt about agricultural techniques, traditionally cultivated plants and their uses from the residents.

The visit, which proved a huge success with both the young students and the elderly residents, was the first step towards establishing a Heritage Garden at the home, which will be tended by the residents and visiting Wildlife Club members.
But even before the first seeds of the new garden have been planted the Heritage Gardens expansion is already adding to the Clubs’ capacity.

“The residents of the home have so much knowledge about the plants we want to grow, how they were used and their importance in Seychelles, and it was wonderful to see how eager they were to share this knowledge with the students and how excited the students were to learn from them,” said WCS Coordinator Lyndy Bastienne.

As well as setting out a suitable plot for the start of the Home for the Elderly garden, the WCS members also visited the individual homes of the residents and heard stories from Seychelles’ history which had previously been confined to their school books.

“The visit really helped to bring the project to life. The Club members met with people who had relied on traditional herbal medicines, cultivated their own foods and really utilised the plants which we are studying in our gardens,” said Ms Bastienne.

The Heritage Gardens project was started in 2005 and has since spread to 15 schools, with a further five expected to join during the next six months out of a total of 35 schools in Seychelles. Each Heritage Garden requires school headteachers to set aside a small area of land for the club members to cultivate. Seedlings and horticultural advice are supplied by Nature Seychelles and the Department of Natural Resources.

“The development of far reaching links within the community has always been one of the key aims of the Heritage Gardens project. It started out with strong inter-organisational ties and is now expanding to bring together all members of society, young and old, keeping this knowledge alive” said Ms Bastienne.

The Heritage Gardens started as a Wildlife Clubs of Seychelles led project, with support from Nature Seychelles, technical advice from the Department of Natural Resources and logistical support from the Ministry of Education.

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