With school back in session and two full-time gardeners, a lot is happening at the IE-funded Las Malvinas urban garden project in Iquitos, Peru! During a typical week, over 300 students regularly come and go for classes in the gazebo and hands-on work in the garden. Our in-country partner sent this update.

The vegetable area is starting another season, and the beds have been replanted with a variety of vegetables — cucumbers, sweet peppers, cilantro. We also have some experimental plots dedicated to growing horseradish with different amounts of natural fertilizer (chicken droppings), plus peppers planted using two different methods of ground cover which protect the surrounding soil from serious rainwater leaching.  Implementation and evaluation of these experiments are being made by the students. Our papaya trees, only just recently planted, are quickly bearing fruit and our passion fruit plants are thriving.

The medicinal area of the garden is smaller by comparison but is showing strong growth as we’ve planted the most commonly used medicinal plants in the area — achiote, hierba luisa, hausai and rosa sisa.

The ornamental flower area is starting to get more attention.  This is a great asset to the garden as it brings together many examples of rainforest flowers all in one place for students and guests to enjoy.  Rarely does one see a broad range of rainforest flowers together in the wild.  We’ve been nurturing a number of new marigold plants and we’re buying seeds to plant more.  Marigolds are a great deterrent for ants which continue to be a challenge to control in the garden since we’re using only natural methods. We recently made the purchase of almost 100 bougainvillea flowering plants to run along our fence line.

About Las Malvinas: Housed at a public school, the Las Malvinas urban garden project is the centerpiece of an IE-funded environmental Amazon education program. Teachers use this outdoor classroom to teach environmental awareness, biology and language arts to the school's 1,000 students. The Garden is home to a vegetable garden, medicinal plant garden and two ponds.

Learn more about the Las Malvinas Garden and how you can support the project at Traveler's Philanthropy.