The Freedom to Grow

Written by John Nyago

I was born and raised in Uganda. To this day, my family has a 20 acre farm there on which we grow food and rear animals. The majority of the food that we ate in my house growing up came from this farm. While my family was poor, we never went without food. God was always faithful to provide for us as we worked the ground. He saved us from experiencing famine and its adverse effects. 

Growing our own food saved us from having to spend the limited money we had on food. Instead, we could use that money to pay for things such as clothing, tuition, medical services, etc. I don’t know how my parents would have afforded to pay for our tuition if they also had to daily buy food for our family.  Though I studied agriculture in school, the majority of my hands-on experience came from farming with my family. So, farming and food production has always been part of my life. 

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Our society has shifted focus away from educating the next generation in sustainable food production. Now less than 1% of the current population are farmers. In turn, organically grown produce full of nutrients remains costly and often geographically inaccessible to the poor while packaged foods void of nutrients are cheap and readily available. With rising statistics on childhood obesity, we believe children deserve to learn about food they eat, the plants in their houses and backyards, and the relationship between the natural vegetation and human activity.

I am privileged to respond to these issues by teaching gardening and food production at the Academy for G.O.D. We engage students on topics such as nutrition, soil science and maintenance, how to preserve our environment and how to grow healthy and delicious food among others.Growing up in Uganda, I studied agriculture in two different schools for four years, but it was all done in the classroom without ever visiting a garden. I now see the great benefit of the garden serving as an outdoor classroom that brings simple and complex lessons to life. While the classes I took were purely theoretical, I now get to teach a hands-on, practical education in the garden. Students have the opportunity to interact with nature, continue to develop their tactile senses and awareness of the numerous natural processes that take place in the garden. 

As we teach our Academy students about gardening and food production, we want them to know how God generously intended for all human beings to have access to food (Gen. 1:29-31), and how they can exercise their freedom and choice to eat what they need by participating in growing their own food. Students experience this reality everyday as they get to eat some of the food they’ve helped to grow and harvest from the garden at breakfast and lunch through our Farm to Table program.  I am thankful to teach this course and to do my part in ensuring kids are given the opportunity to participate in the production of their food!