At the beginning of the year, three Ensinas at one of our placement schools began a sustainability project with their students and began building a garden in the school's backyard. One of the participants in Ensina Brasil’s first cohort, Francielle, developed a garden in her school as a side project. She gathered dozens of students to build the garden and, most importantly, maintain it.
The space was a stretch of sunburned grass when they began, about 20x30 yards full of weeds and debris. On the first day of the project, it was just our three teachers and three students measuring out the lot with twine.
There was, however, one student that would constantly go to the Principal's office for bad behavior. The boy was about to get expelled. Francielle invited him to be part of the garden project and he's been with them since the beginning. She says now that he's a new person. He never misses class or goes to the principal's office and even his grades got better. He told Francielle that he can't leave school because he is responsible for the tomatoes.
A month and a half later, more than a dozen students are regularly involved, as well as a half-dozen other teachers from the school. Students have self-organized to recruit others, to organize lunches for when the group works on Saturdays and teachers have begun to incorporate their project into lessons.
Today, the stretch of sunburned grass has rows of cassava, lettuce, carrots and a half-dozen other plants beginning to sprout and show leaves.