Learn Grow - A Rotary Project Which Helps the Hungry Help Themselves


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The Learn/Grow Project teaches people in economically challenged countries how to best utilize their own local resources more effectively rather than rely on introduced farming methods and imported crops. Learn/Grow takes the best of both traditional local agriculture and combines it with the best of modern agricultural knowledge to help locals proudly create sensible home gardens that produce foods closely matched to the nutritional needs for themselves and their families and are easily sustainable.

Locally adapted plants with higher overall nutritional values can be chosen than many of the traditional western food plants can be chosen using the tool that Bruce has developed. The project emphasizes the need for people who are suffering from nutritional deficiencies to grow a wide variety of these locally adapted plants in their gardens in order to meet their needs more completely. For instance, it has been documented that many Solomon Island women have anemia, a condition that can often be cured by simply eating more leafy greens that contain iron. Using Food Plants International’s unique database, Learn/Grow takes the lead in helping determine which locally adapted food plants offer the greatest food values for people known to be suffering from nutritional deficiencies like anemia and teaches them how to grow them and prepare them so they may be safely eaten.

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  • This an actual aid poster from Africa that highlights a key problem of western food aid Wrong plant – a plant better adapted to the location would be appropriate Wrong place – cabbage is a temperate plant not well suited to be grown in the tropics. Wrong methods – Rows are not necessary unless machines are being used and it is more sustainable to grow plants in mixed communities than in a mono-culture. Wrong food – cabbage has very low food value and is not appropriate for malnourished communities – explained in following slides.
  • There are 67 plants with 10 times the amount of iron in cabbage, ....and 8 plants with 100 times the amount, out of 500 potential leafy green tropical food crops.
  • The detail is not important, what is important is that cabbage is not only very low in protein and many other important nutrients, it is one of the vegetables lowest in nutrient value. It does have good fibre content and anti-cancer compounds which are very good in a Western diet but this does not help someone likely to die of malnutrition before they have a chance for the attributes of cabbage to be of value.
  • Monienh is a common tropical weed. Western agricultural advisers usually do not have knowledge of its nutritional value and regularly recommend this weed be removed to grow western food crops such as cabbage. This highlights the need to re-think food production for starving communities. It is necessary to turn modern agricultural training around and in this case pull out the crop and eat the weeds!
  • Ask anyone what to eat if you want to get vitamin C and most will say “Oranges”. Oranges and other citris plants do have reasonable levels of vitamin C but other food plants have much higher levels. For people deficient in any vitamin or mineral it is best to identify and grow the best available plant with the richest source of the missing nutrient. For tropical countries guava has three time the amount of Vitamin C as citrus and is much better suited to the tropical environment.
  • The first LEARN  GROW program is planned for the Solomon Islands. It is proposed that information be presented in easily understood books and posters and be supported though training. To help extend the LEARN  GROW concept in the Solomon Islands, the program will seek support from existing agencies, institutions and people involved in health, education and agriculture, as well as other community organisations and local aid providers. Comprehensive publications have been developed on the food crop for PNG. These are available on the Learn – Grow website. A matching grant, involving two other Australian Rotary Districts, has been obtained to under take a pilot program on the island of Cebu in the Philippines. Many projects around the world have been provided with the database by Food Plants International and are beginning to incorporate Learn  Grow in local aid programs which often include a range of aims including water, sanitation, shelter, literacy and other issues. Often when such projects investigate growing food crops they sadly resort to the only information available which is ‘Western’ food technology.
  • At minimum of $100,000 is needed to take this project forward. These funds will be deployed as indictated. Grant and sponsor funds will be sought to assist the delivery of the Solomon Islands program. It is planned to partner with an existing aid provider in the delivery of this program. A major focus will be to attract significant funding externally to Rotary. Support by Rotary at all levels will significantly enhance acceptance by external agencies. The District 9830 Learn ♦ Grow base Committee and Food Plants International are committed to providing food plant resource information to any party who is able to deliver humanitarian aid anywhere in the world. This information will be provided at no cost to the recipient.
  • The Learn Grow Team: Volunteers are being sought to join the Learn Grow team. Do you have a skill in: writing, communication, IT, project management, program leaders, marketing, sales, promotion, graphic design, agronomy, science or whatever, there is an opportunity for you in this project.
  • Learn Grow - A Rotary Project Which Helps the Hungry Help Themselves

    1. 1. A project that helps people in developing countries learn about and grow the best local foods to meet their nutritional needs
    2. 2. This Rotary year our International President, D K Lee, challenged all Rotarians to “ Keep the service emphasis on water, health and hunger and literacy….but to focus your efforts in each of these areas on children and reducing the terrible rate of child mortality in our world.”
    3. 3. A tangible response to one of his challenges has emerged from within District 9830.
    4. 4. A project that shows hungry developing world communities how to feed themselves with locally grown foods.
    5. 5. <ul><li>Currently a project of Rotary District 9830 </li></ul><ul><li>Sponsored by the Rotary Club of Devonport North </li></ul><ul><li>In partnership with Food Plants International </li></ul>
    6. 6. <ul><li>Food Plants International </li></ul><ul><li>A not-for-profit organisation lead </li></ul><ul><li>by founder, Bruce French, who has created the Food Plants </li></ul><ul><li>International database </li></ul><ul><li>This unique database which includes 18,000 species </li></ul><ul><li>represents the most comprehensive scientific information </li></ul><ul><li>available on edible plants for all countries of the world. </li></ul>
    7. 7. Buz Green, an agri-business consultant, and a member of the Rotary Club of Devonport North of District 9830, Tasmania, Australia heads the Rotary Committee for the Learn/Grow project.
    8. 8. <ul><li>A Vital Tool </li></ul><ul><li>The database developed over 30 years </li></ul><ul><li>by Food Plants International provides: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Scientific and common names of edible plants </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Photos and drawings of the plants </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Information on how to grow them </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Nutritional information </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>How each plant can be prepared and eaten </li></ul></ul>
    9. 9. <ul><li>Aim </li></ul><ul><li>To sustainably reduce malnutrition in developing countries and reduce </li></ul><ul><ul><li>illness </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>disease </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>and mortality </li></ul></ul><ul><li>… caused by nutritional deficiencies. </li></ul>
    10. 10. Objective To assist developing world communities LEARN about and GROW, in their own ‘backyard’, the best local food plants that match their nutritional needs.
    11. 11. <ul><li>Why </li></ul><ul><li>Many local plants are nutritionally far superior than ‘Western’ food crops. </li></ul><ul><li>Local plants thrive because they are naturally adapted to local conditions. </li></ul>
    12. 12. Wrong plant Wrong place Wrong methods Wrong food
    13. 13. Cabbage: Wrong Plant - Wrong Place Many plants have 10 to 100 times the amount of iron when compared to cabbage. But how would you know? The iron content of just some of the leafy green vegetables found in tropical regions of the world.
    14. 14. Protein deficiency is a major problem in the tropical world, especially amongst women, children and the sick. Protein is needed for growth, health and overcoming sickness. Green leafy vegetables – protein content
    15. 15. 4 times Protein 8 times Vitamin A 20 times Vitamin C 8 times Iron 4 times Zinc Cabbage Momienh OR And it suits the tropics!
    16. 16. An example Vitamin C content tree fruits
    17. 17. <ul><ul><li>Solomon Islands </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Papua New Guinea </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>The Philippines </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Other </li></ul></ul>
    18. 18. Measuring success <ul><ul><li>Adoption of local plant production </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Increased levels of critical nutrients in the population </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>A direct reduction in nutritional deficiencies and disorders </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>A reduction in infant mortality at age 1 and age 5 </li></ul></ul><ul><li>… these benchmarks will be monitored over time </li></ul>
    19. 19. <ul><li>The next step - $100,000+ </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Deliver the Solomons’ program </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Engage a partner </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Bring external funding providers on board </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Extend this program through Rotary International </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Provide an information support base </li></ul></ul>
    20. 20. <ul><li>Act Directly </li></ul><ul><li>It is simple for any club or district to incorporate LEARN ♦ GROW into existing or new aid projects – identify the local nutritional deficiencies in the population and LEARN ♦ GROW can provide the information! </li></ul>
    21. 21. Learn ♦ Grow Support Group <ul><ul><li>$10,000 = ‘Learn ♦ Grow Champion’ </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>$1,0000 = ‘Learn ♦ Grow Ally’ </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Donation = ‘Learn ♦ Grow Mate’ </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>‘ Learn ♦ Grow Team’ </li></ul></ul>
    22. 22. The Learn Grow Team : Volunteers are being sought to join the Learn Grow team. Do you have a skill in: writing, communication, IT, project management, program leaders, marketing, sales, promotion, graphic design, agronomy, science or whatever, there is an opportunity for you in this project.
    23. 23. “ Not only will nutritional food be more available... but those most at risk will have the DIGNITY of managing their own needs.” Dr Eileen Gentilcore, RI Your help will mean….
    24. 24. Rotary can make a difference! www.learngrow.org