By Beth Byrne
Through the Galapagos Family Gardening Project, we’re facilitating families to grow their own food to help mitigate some of the financial hardship the local community face from the sudden halt in tourism since the pandemic which makes up 80% of the local economy. The project has the added benefit of encouraging families to spend time together and experience the natural world around them, which is emphasised further by growing native, endemic plants. By increasing the accessibility of nature, we are inspiring families and instilling a passion in the future ambassadors of Galapagos for the incredible wildlife that share their Islands right from their home.
Since this project launched in July 2020, we’re now working with five elementary school teachers and their families, as well as 85 other families.
“We already had a small garden going at the beginning of the project, but we feel this type of project is essential for families given the challenges COVID-19 has posed. Our daughter Melody has named her plants, and we all enjoy a moment of peace as we care for them daily.”– The De La Torre Sanchez family
There are many psychological and wellbeing benefits to gardening, too. During a Danish study in 2018, researchers found that ten weeks of gardening produced similar benefits to ten weeks of cognitive behaviour therapy. There is also considerable evidence that just 120 minutes of exposure to nature a week is a critical factor in maintaining positive mental health, which can help combat some of the emotional stress caused by the pandemic to local communities. As well as seeds and practical gardening tips, the educational gardening packs include links to videos on the importance of building community, and yoga exercises to help family’s bond and connect them to their outside space. All the families involved believe the gardening packs have helped deepen their children’s’ understanding of the plants and the importance of conserving endemic species. We already have new teachers interested in participating with their families starting this month. Keep watch for more updates.
“I am inspired by the network of resilient and creative families we are connecting through this project. Many people had never cultivated plants before, and now they are hooked! The local teachers love working together as a group and learning more about the special plants growing on our island. Now their students talk about “Lecocarpus darwinii” (Darwin’s daisy) as a special friend that we must all work together to conserve. This is only the beginning of yet another positive process born out of the COVID-19 crisis.”– Ashleigh Kilngman, GCT friend and HTSA educator.
The Galapagos Family Gardening Project encompasses all the elements of a movement called One Health. The movement highlights the health connections of the three arms of the One Health triad – animals, humans, and environments. The project also looks to promote proper nutrition and creative cooking with a social media campaign to improve and vary diets, weekly recipe webinars and encourage sharing of recipes to inspire and motivate families. The project looks to promote local food and nutrition and bring together family, garden and overall Island health.
By helping families through this difficult time and promoting food security and self-sufficiency, we can impact the other sections of the triad by promoting growing endemic species and helping reduce financial strain. which can lead to a risk of illegal fishing and poaching. This project highlights the key goal of Galapagos Conservation Trust’s Connecting with Nature programme to ensure that more young people have the chance to get out and experience the natural world around them. By increasing the accessibility of nature, we will inspire families and instil passion in the future ambassadors of Galapagos for the incredible wildlife that shares their Islands right from their home.
How you can help
Help us inspire even more young people and donate to our Connecting With Nature Programme today or sign up as a GCT member. Becoming a regular giver helps us to plan ahead and make long-term decisions to protect the Galapagos Islands with steady income we can rely on.