A colourful graphic showing the words Edible Classroom with women's faces

Our First Edible Classroom: open for learning

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An Edible Classroom is a large stone-constructed building in rural Kenya that has a clear mission: to bring people together to learn how to put more food on the table.

That might be by participating in a lesson on tree care, permaculture, organic vegetable growing, or syntropic agroforestry. Alternatively, it might be by learning how to generate an income by making shoes, mats or soap, or perhaps doing a more serious Charcoal Burners Rehabilitation Workshop, which has income generation ideas built into it: there’s little point telling somebody they shouldn’t do something to make money, if you cannot offer up a viable alternative.

One thing is for certain, the threads that run through whatever is taught there, are all woven from the same sustainable, environmental cloth.

We’re aiming to get at least one more Edible Classroom built at another of our major planting sites on Rusinga Island in western Kenya on Lake Victoria. 

What is an Edible Classroom?

An 8m x 16m stone building with metal latticework on the windows to stop marauding baboons from disrupting this purposeful learning space. A white painted roof covers it all, purposefully designed to reflect the sun’s rays back and reduce the temperature inside. 

The actual bricks for this building were proudly made by the Garashi branch of Mothers of the Forest. They learned how to craft them at a series of workshops we ran earlier this year.

Builder finishing the windows of our Edible Classroom in Garashi Permaculture Teaching Centre

At the far end of the classroom there’s a huge blackboard and at the other, a long stone workbench offers a perfect platform for giving How To demonstrations, or for carrying out practical exercises. Underneath, there are cupboards for storing learning resources.

The room is filled with 30 wood and metal frame chairs plus desks, all made by hand by an amazingly talented craftswoman in Malindi.

With your unwavering support, we’ve created one heck of a conducive space for adult learning and it is perfectly befitting of the title Edible Classroom. 

Letter by Letter

I’ve been trying to describe my inspiration for wanting the room to be named as such and I’ve hit upon something interesting. What our team want people to achieve when they study in that space is a multitude of things, but this acronym explains it nicely:

Environmental: must be eco-friendly and sustainable
Doable: the student can replicate this at home
Inspirational: lessons should shine like a bright light in people’s minds
Behaviour-changing: lessons should help students do things differently in the future
Life-skills: the future we’re entering will require additional sustainable skills
Empowering: empowerment starts with knowledge

An Illuminating Start

August 23rd was a very special day. The Edible Classroom played host to a stakeholders meeting with the local Chief, Sub-Chief, the Assistant County Commissioner, village elders and farmers and members of the local community. It was to discuss Word Forest’s plans for tree planting long into the future. It was a perfect inauguration for what we hope will be a brighter, greener future for us all.

Tracey West joining the Stakeholders Meeting by video call

If you’d like to pop a pound or two into our pot to build the next Edible Classroom, visit WordForest.org/donate.

Thank you for your unwavering belief in what we’re doing by reforesting Kenya and supporting the incredible people who are tending the trees.

Tracey West and The Team

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