Local residents have loved attending An Introduction to Natural Gardening and Soil Ecology, a series of outdoor practical workshops created and hosted by Miyuki Kasahara, and supported by our Making Space for Nature (MSFN) Community Fund.
The workshops were developed after Miyuki suffered from an allergic reaction to something she’d eaten. Confused and determined, she began investigating the cause of her new allergy, eliminating every type of food one by one to narrow down the culprit. She then focused her attention on the relationship between soil and food, concluding that “healthy soil provides healthy food.” In 2021, Miyuki applied for the MSFN Community Fund so that she could host a series of workshops to share her knowledge with others. Today, she no longer has food allergies.
In preparation for her first workshop, Miyuki gathered soil samples from various locations around Thamesmead and invited her participants to bring samples from around their own homes and gardens. Using an alkali solution and observing the change in colour, the group tested their soil samples for levels of carbon dioxide (CO2). This is an important, and increasingly prominent, sign of climate change. The repercussions of more concentrated CO2 in soil include stunted plant growth which can seriously impact the food we grow. By reducing CO2 in the atmosphere and the chemicals we put on our soil, we will grow healthier produce and all become much healthier as a direct result.
In her second session, Miyuki continues the theme and teaches participants how to make natural fertiliser from ingredients easily found at home, such as foods and vinegar. She creatively strikes a balance between fun and education while including some of the more scientific elements on the topic, like the importance of microbes in relation to our health.
Miyuki has enjoyed the experimental aspect of her teaching which she attributes to the grant she received from the MSFN fund. She learns from each session and adjust her methods accordingly. Participants take an active role in the workshops, getting involved in experiments and learning through doing. Miyuki makes science exciting with her naturally fun and engaging personality and even brings along her homemade doll which makes an appearance to help with some of the more technical explanations.
The MSFN Community Fund has enabled Miyuki to educate, entertain and inspire Thamesmead residents on a topic she is passionate about. Overcoming initial nerves and the pressure of journalists observing her first workshop, this experience has given her an opportunity to grow personally as well as professionally. Miyuki’s advice to anyone considering applying is to be realistic with your budget and allow time for research. She says, “If you think your project will benefit the local community, just try it!”