Thrive’s Living Trees of Livingstonia (Thrive LTOL) is an initiative in Rumphi District, Malawi. Funded by the Scottish Government and implemented by Thrive, Leith Community Crops in Pots, Living Trees of Livingstonia and communities of 21 schools, it has also included soil analysis by the Universities of Edinburgh and Mzuzu, funded by Global Challenges Research Fund.
Thrive’s LTOL advances the Malawian Government’s Home-Grown Schools policy, since the 21 schools are growing and cooking breakfast foods for their children. Our baseline survey found that only 21% of children ate breakfast, and so 79% of children were eating only after school. Now each school provides breakfast to children at least 2 days per week. Each school has also built a tree nursery, and is growing 3,000 tree seedlings. They will donate one third of these to households, to create a forest of new trees in this area, sell one third along with other cash crops which they have begun to grow – paprika, coffee and soya beans – and keep one third to grow on for food and timber. Living Trees of Livingstonia links the schools to markets, giving schools income to improve their children’s education.
These small farms are run by Parent Teacher Associations, who are proving that Malawi can meet its most urgent needs independently and sustainably. The work has prompted the Leith community garden’s CEO to ponder on Rumphi rural children’s greater freedom from cars, greater exercise without computers, first-hand knowledge of food production, and less obesity on a low-fat, low-sugar, low-salt diet.
Thrive’s LTOL has a wide range of benefits: environmental, employment, nutritional and educational.