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

2013 volunteer education facilitators

This year, the Abruzzi Higher Secondary School garden project welcomes contributions by energetic and enthusiastic volunteers who are keen to interact with young students about learning from the great outdoors. This includes assisting teachers with integrating curriculum to the garden.

If you have experience in a particular field, be it Science, Mathematics, English, Urdu, or Balti language, or trees, local food growing,  Art, cooking, or wildlife, this is for you. Continue reading

Imran Khans visit to the Abruzzi school

 DSC_0189_resizeThe village of Siankhor in the Shigar valley, sits on the road to Askoli, the starting point to treks in Pakistan's Karakorum mountain range. It is home to the Abruzzi Higher Secondary School, which was visited by Imran Khan, chairman PTI, along with Jahangir Tareen, on September 3, 2012. Delighted to have Mr. Imran Khan amidst them, the students of the school and the people of Shigar valley gave them a rousing welcome. Continue reading

The Shabbir Science Lab at the Abruzzi School

I met Amjad Shabbir in the summer of 2011 via a young man in Islamabad who was trying to connect me to ‘real ‘ people – who would truly help fund the Abruzzi school garden project.

I made the cold call and introduced myself, then emailed Amjad the Abruzzi school story and all else i do…he arranged to meet me almost immediately after. A few days later my first encounter with him and his assistant Aniqa Yaqoob impressed me as ‘real’ people – sincere, committed, and driven. Somehow to me his bald head was a tell tale sign of left overs from cancer…his demeanor calm and sure…with an underlying sense of humor peppered with a strong faith.

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