how doth your garden grow?

Four years of slow and steady progress captured by Mahera’s expert editing skills in this short video of the story of the Abruzzi school garden.

Each year has been a uniquely new experience, all adding up to building trust, community and creating links and connections to education through the language of agriculture.IMG_1852

This year – 2014 – we have a new principal at the school. Mr Latif Khan, himself a parent as well as prior Board member. His passion for all things garden equals only my own. A stickler for getting everyone on board and not letting anyone slack off will be a refreshing change while we get the kitchen built and teaches trained.






enviornmental art

5th graders made tepees from willow branches for their tomato plants, then wrote stories about North American Indians and tepees – it became a lesson in growing tomatoes more effectively by raising them off the ground, as well as social studies, language (they wrote their stories in Urdu) and math. (their math teacher helped with sizes and proportions )

5th graders with their tomatoes and Tepee

   5th graders with their tomatoes and Tepee

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2013 – my year in the garden

In keeping with its organic nature, the task of building the garden has been much greater than simply digging, planting or constructing….it has been about creating community within the school and outside its boundaries, about seeing and making connections between books and the garden, about quiet understated financial help from the outside world, yet active vibrant and willing help from within. Mostly it has been about understanding the workings, the mindset, the strengths and the weaknesses of the school community.  My one year in Shigar implementing the garden plans as they were designed in 2011, ended in early Nov 2013, yet the design process continues to amorphously expand or shrink and take its own organic from.18 Continue reading

2013 Volunteer internship

IMG_5021The Abruzzi Higher Secondary School garden internship for 2013 was a six week volunteer experience that started in early June, and went through to end July. Six third year students from Indus Valley School of Art and Architecture in Karachi signed up to design/build the gardens kitchen and cafeteria, as part of their third year course work.  One volunteer from Islamabad helped assist with computer classes as well as get all hardware kinks sorted and fixed. Continue reading


eight days in shigar

On a gamble and a whim, and a deep-seated desire, I visited Shigar for a little over a week this July on my way back from Nagar Valley, where I had trekked to Rakaposhi base camp. To my utter amazement and delight, I found the teaching garden at Abruzzi Higher Secondary School blossoming to life. Sunflowers nodded in the sun, turnips were growing, kale had been grown from seed and was ready to be plucked and dressed into salad, peppers were growing, planters of marjoram and rosemary were in the courtyard. Continue reading

Volunteers work in the garden

Screen Shot 2013-06-30 at 3.18.12 PMVolunteers from Islamabad and Karachi work in the garden with the schoolchildren. In the video clips below, Insia, one of the Indus Valley architecture students, explains what they are teaching the kids to build.

They’ll make  a scaled model first and then the carpenter will build most of the structure under Husain’s (another intern) supervision,  but on the premises so that all the children will also learn from him and. Each class get a chance to construct at least three or four of  the triangles. Their first carpentry class and actual involvement with building their own garden spaces.  Continue reading