Chua Chua Botanical Garden
Chua-Chua Botanical Gardens is one of SYFA’s greatest accomplishments. This project seeks to create a community centre and place where the environment is openly cherished. The gardens were conceived by Farmer Tantoh in 1999 and approved by the Nkambe Rural Council in 2006
Before the establishment of the gardens, the middle section (pictured) was laden with brush and debris. Local folklore had even associated the area with bad spirits. After much hard work, the area has transformed into a lavish garden of local and exotic plants that serves as a community centre. People now gather at the site for important meetings, social events, and to film music videos. The presence of the gardens has brought national prestige to Nkambe and increased community interest in understanding and preserving the environment. The project encourages the local community’s efforts to plant and care for their own organic flower gardens.
- To demonstrate the importance of environmental protection through the creation of a beautiful organic garden
- To conserve indigenous and exotic plant species
- To protect the biodiversity of the area
- To fight the prevailing water shortages in Nkambe through water catchment protection that utilises sustainable agroforestry techniques
- To generate an income to ensure the economic sustainability of the garden
By using an area rich in organic plants, we are encouraging the local population to take pride in their surroundings and to be active in its environmental preservation.
Since starting a year ago, with a donation from Albert Onega, one of Tantoh’s past advisors, we have developed and maintained the middle section of the gardens. To do this, we cleared the brush, ploughed and planted varieties of flowers and shrubs, and have maintained the gardens through voluntary work and donations of manure. Current obstacles include the indiscriminate planting of eucalyptus trees, gardening, and construction of buildings near the local streams, which are depleting the water levels. The use of the area for grazing grounds and the practice of burning brush are also damaging Chua-Chua’s surroundings. The progress of the garden serves as a dramatic first step towards changing the community’s direct use of the local stream as a washing point. It also creates a space where the environment and biodiversity is valued. In response to the building of the gardens, local residents have started cultivating their own organic gardens.
- To protect plants for future research
- To help conserve biodiversity by attracting birds and eco-friendly organisms
- To Purify the air
- To indirectly benefit honeybee farmers by increasing flowers for their bees
- To construct an alternative washing area will prevent water pollution
- Classes make regular fieldtrips to the gardens so that their students can learn how to identify the flowers, and understand their importance.
- The construction of the botanical gardens improves the aesthetic qualities of Nkambe Town.
- The garden will serve as a site for eco-tourism, recreation, meditation, retreats, photography, and studying.
- The garden will provide a research site for botanists.
- The garden will create job opportunities for youths.
SUSTAINABILITY OF THE PROJECT
The Chua-Chua gardens is projected to become a self-sustaining entity at the end of the three-year phase. The project plans to generate income through the following activities:
- Sales of seedlings
- The use of a canteen/store to sell flowers and snacks
- Registration for indoor games at the recreational site
- Charging for photos taken in the garden
It is our hope that future development of the gardens will both improve the community’s value and treatment of the environment.
- Phase 1: We plan to build a washing point near the garden where the locals can wash their clothes without further polluting the stream. We will also work to change the community’s mentality about the environment by posting signs with information about water resources and conservation. To protect the gardens, we will add fences to prevent stray animals. To increase the aesthetics of the gardens, we will reinforce all the paths with gravel, build chairs and local huts, plant more flowers and trees, build two small bridges to link both sides of the middle section, and plant lawns around the site. We also intend to create recreational areas for games like basketball and table tennis.
- Phase 2: In the upper section, we intend to plant a live fence (a barrier made by planted trees or shrubs) around the garden, build hanging bridges which will provide people access to areas allowing them to study aquatic eco-systems, watch birds, and meditate. We also intend to plant trees and put up educational signs about nature protection.
- Phase 3: In the lower portion of the garden, we plan to fence the waterfall, plant more trees, and put up more chairs. The whole project will serve as site for eco-tourism and create employment opportunities for the rural poor especially youths therefore reducing rural exodus.