Amy McBride, a member of the Rotary Club of Gaborone in Botswana, updates Longmont Rotary on the progress of the club’s learning garden project on Tuesday. The garden will teach youth how to cultivate crops in the village of Khwai, Botswana. (Dana Cadey)
A garden at a Botswana preschool is on track to teach young villagers how to grow crops this spring, thanks to funding and support from Longmont Rotary.
The Longmont club on Tuesday hosted Amy McBride, a former Colorado Rotarian, who updated members on the garden’s progress. McBride is now a member of the Rotary Club of Gaborone in Botswana, which is partnering with Longmont to build the garden in the remote village of Khwai.
McBride said the garden’s well is ready to pump water to the plot. Volunteers are also gearing up to install solar panels and purchase gardening equipment like shovels and rakes. The seeds for crops are set to be planted within the next month and a half.
“We’re coming into spring in Botswana, so it’s the perfect time for us to start thinking about putting in a garden,” McBride said.
Villagers will grow carrots, spinach, tomatoes, green peppers and onions – all frequently eaten in Botswana, McBride said. She explained that the hunter-gatherer history of the village has made it hard for vegetable gardens to take off.
“They’ve tried to grow crops in Khwai, and it has not been successful,” she said. “(They’re) going to start young and teach these kids how to cultivate crops.”
In her presentation, McBride also showed club members pictures of Khwai and the preschool where the garden will live. With the area’s high rates of poverty and HIV, McBride emphasized the positive impact the learning garden will have.
“It’s really going to make a big difference in the lives of the people in Khwai village,” McBride told Longmont Rotary. “It’s a real pleasure to be partnering with you, and I hope it’s the beginning of something that lasts a long time.”
McBride’s partner in this endeavor is Longmont Rotary member Andrew Lee, who first pitched the idea of the garden to Rotary leadership. Lee said the project is currently ahead of schedule and under budget; excess funds will likely go toward bringing a consultant to the village to offer gardening training.
“We don’t have the pilot for the airplane yet,” Lee said.
As a guest of Longmont Rotary, McBride was given a banner bearing the club’s name to take back to the Gaborone club. The banner was presented by Longmont Rotary co-presidents Rose Crispin and Tim Waters, who thanked McBride for her visit.
“It’s really good to hear the hands-on side of what we’re doing there,” Crispin said.