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Green Pastures, a model of integrated farming and educational success that could be replicated by other local communities.

Green Pastures project in Myanmar


The project Green Pastures was established in a very poor village (Shwebo) near Mandalay by an IFFAsia alumni, to provide education for the village children. Today, it has evolved to become a model project for organic farming for the villagers to learn from.

A local Myanmar, Martin, from a nearby town, initiated the initial concept for this project. He is a Fondacio member who cares passionately about his people, this community and particularly the children, whom he got to know through an internship spent in the village. His idea was to set up a goat-breeding social enterprise which would fund the education of the village children. And at the same time,  provide extra income for the families doing the goat breeding.

The beginning of the project

Five of the poorest families in the village were selected to breed goats. The income from selling the goats would be split between the families and the education project.

Martin supervised the building of pens for each family. In addition, he regularly monitors the goats and oversees the quarterly vaccinations necessary to keep the goats healthy. The goats have increased in number by 48 from an initial 75.

He set up regular daily classes for the village children and the children are enthusiastic about learning! They are beginning to experience success in state exams, and to go on to higher education outside the village. The president of the village has stated that his dream for the village is that 50% of the children would go on to higher education. Hence, this is a big dream for a village where prior to the start of the project none of the children passed any exams.

Green Pastures project in Myanmar - Mandalay village
Young students learning together

The objectives of Green Pastures

Together, Martin & his wife, Victoria share the teaching. Victoria, a qualified primary school teacher, is also teaching the pre-school children who are often left to fend for themselves whilst their mothers work on the land.

We are currently just over half way through this phase and now want to build on the enthusiasm and desire for change evident in everyone involved. In the next phase of the project, we want to provide more income generation opportunities and upskill not just the children but also their parents. Furthermore, we want to train the villagers in brick-making and construction and build a learning center for adults and children alike.

The new Green Pastures: an Integral Ecology Center

A project in Yangon

Due to the coup, Martin and Victoria were forced to flee the village. Consequently, they put the project on hold. The next phase was to focus on developing integral urban farming, as an alternative means of livelihood for those who are interested in small-scale farming and starting their own small businesses, particularly in the area of mushroom farming. Using skills and experiences derived from the Green Pastures project, we have recreated a small organic farm at the Young Lives center. There, we grow vegetables such as mushrooms.

As part of the integral farming system, we also created a composting system. It reuses kitchen scraps, and uses only animal manure to fertilize our crops. The crops used for the demonstrations are produced in a self-sustaining cycle. Each round of crops is generates the funds necessary for the next round. Hence, this method is more socially impactful! Indeed, it enables us to offer training free of charge to individuals who need and want it. Additionnaly, it ensures accessibility to a broader range of participants at little cost to us.

A synergy with Young Lives

Green Pastures team held two separate one-day sessions for the team and the students from Young Lives Yangon. The sessions entailed visits around the center to experience and learn organic gardening and small-scale farming. Moreover, Martin gave sessions on the basic concepts of integral ecology, interconnectedness and care for the environment. Both groups were given the opportunity to experiment with mushroom farming, as well as weaving, as demonstrated by Victoria. Therefore, this afforded the participants a better understanding the process of handweaving traditional fabric.

The limited space available at our center prevents Martin from being able to construct more than one mushroom house. As a result, we are unable to produce enough mushrooms as a viable product for sale. Conversely, cultivating other crops was also not a viable option due to the extensive resources, time and effort required to fertilize the infertile soil. Without the ability to establish a structured program, we concluded that this initiative is not financially viable or sustainable.

Mushrooms of Green Pastures
Green Pastures - Synergies with Young Lives

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