Galapagos Conservation Trust – Urban Family Gardening Project

The Trustees were pleased to support this UK charity’s project to help more local people connect with nature during challenging times and strengthening environmental communications in the community.  Falling into both of the Foundation’s categories for giving, the project will provide young people and families with the opportunity to participate in creative and practical activities that enhance their learning and appreciation for nature; and the urban gardening community offers a unique opportunity to scope trials of innovative composting solutions with a pre-engaged audience, helping solve broader waste management and environmental issues on the Islands.

Many happy students with their Darwin’s Lecocarpus plant © Hacienda Tranquila (HTSA)

Run by the charity’s local partner on San Cristobal, the Hacienda Tranquila SA (HTSA) farm, the project began in 2020 and was developed in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting food insecurity issues.  At the core of this project is the aim to alleviate stress for families at home through growing food in their gardens, as well as promoting a connection to nature (including growing native plants).  The charity will explore ways to strengthen project sustainability, through community composting for example, with the aim to help reduce pressure on waste management.

During 2021, the activities were scaled up with a digital manual being developed as a guide for teachers, which was approved by the Ministry of Education.  As restrictions lessened, field trips were undertaken and the project expanded to 16 elementary school teachers on San Cristobal and 5 teachers in Santa Cruz Island in collaboration with a High School agricultural class enabling the project to reach 525 families.  In addition, a storybook about endemic plants unique to San Cristobal was produced with the help of a local illustrator and more than 500 books were published in Spanish for local school children with activities organised to launch the book with the Ministry of Education.

The small grant awarded will help the charity build on this work by expanding to at least 25 teachers and directly impact the lives of 750 students and their families.  The educational resources for schools will be strengthened and creative outreach and education efforts will better connect students and their families to nature and help them identify and protect unique species of flora and fauna on their island.