Sustainable Orphanage Garden Improvement Project

Sustainable Orphanage Garden Improvement Project

Crowdfunding Completed: April 21, 2017

Amount Funded: $4620

Project Owner: Mark Kinney

Short Description of Project

Assist the UU of Northeast India Annie Margaret Barr orphanage to become agriculturally self sufficient by terracing more of the surrounding land.

How was this project connected to UU?

This project is built from the cooperation of a number of UU agencies.  It grew out of the UU Ann Arbor Sponsor a Student project,  the UU Congregation of Petoskey, The UUNEI orphanage project, and the UUNEI education committee. It provides synergistic results by not only providing better nutrition for the students at the orphanage, but also provides for an improvement in their educational outcomes by creating a Placed Based Education project which builds upon the teacher training which has been (At least 5 different local schools will be engaged in this part of the project).  In addition efforts are designed into the project to ensure that this project becomes a demonstration of good practices for the neighboring community farmers.

Full Description of Project


Annie Margaret Barr Children's Village Entrance

Annie Margaret Barr Children's Village is an orphanage under the Unitarian Union North East India. It was founded in 2008 with the help of many big hearts from the United States of America and the United Kingdom. We have 21 orphans living as family in this House, both boys and girls and we have 12 staff which includes two mothers, a part time doctor and a health worker, a counsellor, a case worker, an educator, an accountant-cum-book-keeper, a cook-cum-gardener and a helper, a housekeeper and a Ho

Orphanage children during recent visit

me Superintendent. The Orphanage has its own Committee called the Children’s Village Management Committee which has a President and a Secretary as the Head Officials and many executive members and members. It is located in a very beautiful place about 40KM from Shillong, the capital of Meghalaya. In this place lived a lady named Annie Margaret Barr, an English lady, who came in 1936 and who, beginning at that time, had transformed many lives into beautiful human beings. Her spirit is still alive today through many of her dedicated projects.

The Annie Margaret Barr Children’s Village is very close to the Mawsynjri Unitarian Church, and is surrounded by many Unitarian Projects such as the Annie Margaret Barr Memorial Hospital and also the Annie Margaret Barr Secondary School. The whole community of about 60 families are all Unitarians. This place is unique in its own way as it is the place chosen by the late Annie Margaret Barr to give her whole life for the upliftment of our people in health care, education and other vocational trainings. During her lifetime people came from far and nearby villages and without looking into their religious background, she took them all in. We want to make this beautiful village a Role Model in this region.

The Children’s Village includes about an acre. The portion that requires terracing is about 3000 sq. meter of the total land area.


Our main objective in building the Children’s Village is to help orphans who have lost their parents and are deprived of relative’s assistance. We work hard to make this home a home full of love. The children’s education is being taken care of while they are surrounded by different activities to build their physical, mental and spiritual well being in more than one way. We have different activities inside the home, from education, to sports and other indoor activities. Apart from outdoor sports like football (soccer) and other games, we are still struggling with the outdoor educational activities such as gardening and other vocational trainings centre activities.

To make our children feel at home with our own Khasi culture and tradition, we feel the need to equip them with basic techniques of gardening while introducing them to different crops so that they are in touch, physically, with the earth. We want them not to forget their roots as part of their growing up. Thus, we want to make use of the hillside land adjacent to the orphanage.


A portion of the garden area showing the green houseThis terracing project will be a role model in and around the village to showcase ways to reduce the depletion of top soils. Our traditional cultivation methods, used for so long, have been proved scientifically to be unviable.
This Home should be self-sufficient or self-sustaining in its use of organically farmed garden vegetables and fruits. As our State has determined that 2025 will be the year of Organic Farming, this is a apprpriate time.
It should generate income.
It will give our children a hands-on service-learning activity while they are in this home and get close to nature.
It will act as a demonstration block to our nearby schools that are required to take practical learning lessons in the field.
This will also act as a place for government officials to conduct farming practical training courses for our local villagers from time to time.

Typical raised garden bed

In order to achieve all of the above objectives one by one, there are already several assets which will be used. First, the Secretary of the Home is a Horticulturist by profession and she is working on the layout design of the garden terraces and will be using her expertise to supervise the whole project.

Having a dream to make this village a Role Model Village in the future, has triggered a lot of effortl to make it into a Model Garden in this area. Therefore, the methodologies and processes to be used will be of the highest quality.

A portion of the current garden showing fruit trees and water tank.

Our priority list in the beginning is land terracing, followed by plot making, and then using a post-manuring strategy to bring back the fertility of the soil that will enable us to grow the immediately after land cutting. Using a terracing method will replace our age old traditional method of making a horizontal furrow (i.e. furrows which go from the top of the hillside to the bottom) that caused a high volume of soil erosion and nutrients depletion in our soil in the Khasi Hills.

The Children’s Home has got a large amount of usable land around it, thus making it feasible to be self sufficient at least in organic vegetables and seasonal fruits and by having additional allied agriculture disciplines such as a piggery and chicken coop will add to the project’s success. This adds up to a self-sustaining project which also generates income from surplus production when it occurs. Using our own animals for manure will minimise our purchase of fertilizer.

A portion of garden area. In the background is part of the area to be terraced.

Organic produce is very expensive and is sought after at present in the state. People are crazy to buy without bargaining the price. We are planning to introduce expensive, nutritious, exotic varieties to our farm such as broccoli, white radish, purple cabbage etc. In this way our children will have the benefit of very highly nutritious meals while surplus crops will fetch high prices. Our children will be healthier having these natural supplements of vitamins minerals.

Our plan is to give our children hands-on service-learning activities while they are in this home which will get them closer to nature. Dovetailing our project with the curriculum in the local secondary school will insure that our children will learn

Current gardening provides many vegetables from the productive soil.

basic agriculture techniques to build their life experiences and bring back into their educational adventures not only in the theory from books but also to become more aware of their main family agricultural backgrounds while augmenting their learning with current horticultural expertise while creating this real practical project. They will also be using their bodies and minds in healthy activity.

A classroom at the Annie Margaret Barr school

These children go to the nearby Annie Margaret Barr Secondary School. They do have subjects that relate to science in agriculture. Since both the school and the orphanage are the projects under the same organisation, we can make use of this block as a demonstration site for the school curriculum. Therefore, not only the children of the Children’s village will benefit from this but also the whole school and even other nearby schools which can come to demonstrations.

The government agriculture department often looks forward to the best demonstration block under the village jurisdiction to take their farmers for short trips to demonstrate different activities that they would like the farmers to follow. Inside our garden we already have a poly-house for raising seedlings which will be shifted to another location once the terracing is started. We also have a vermi-composting house with four pits that will help us get some vermi-compost manures. Both these facilities are good demonstration models for our agricultural farmers. Having all these facilities in place, we are sure that we can get 100% of the seasonal vegetables supply to the home and expect that ati times a surplus will be available to take to market for additional income.

The two pigs (male and female) from the piggery will surely bring extra income in terms of dung to be used in the field and piglets for sale Over time, the two parent pigs will be sold once they are older and will be replaced by younger ones.

The chicken coop with ten chickens as a start in our farm, not only will give manure to our farm but also proteins to our children from their meat and eggs. In future years we expect that income will definitely come to the home from extra eggs and chicks. The plan is that the chicken effort will generate enough income by selling eggs and chickens to cover the cost of feed.


The whole land terracing construction phase of the project will take 30 days to complete starting with 5 men who will be used for land cutting and then 10 men working to make the terraces themselves in 25 days. No machines will be used. It will take a bit longer than usual because of the steep sloping topography of the land. The Piggery will be done in 15 days with two men, and the Chicken Coop will finish in 10 day with two men working. After the terraces were made, another 5 days will be required for post manuring, furrow making for vegetable crops and pits preparation for fruit trees planting.

Once that portion of the project is achieved with the land terracing, piggery and chicken coop in place, our well equipped existing staff will be able to handle the farm and the animals. When all these were done, the rest of the work will be followed by staff and the children of the home along with the Secretary as a Horticulturist will supervise the ongoing cultivation.

PROJECT COST/ESTIMATES: Need to raise $4600.

TOTAL BUDGET:          
Sl.No. Particulars Total Amount (Rs.) In-kind     (Rs.) Required Amount (Rs.) Dollars  
A(1) Land Terracing (Tools & Materials) 17,750.00 X 17,750.00 266.00  
A(2) Land Terracing (Labour) 167,000.00 62,000.00 105,000.00 1,574.00  
A(3) Land Terracing (Post Land Manuring) 40,000.00 X 40,000.00 599.00  
A(4) Land Terracing (Re-location of existing Poly-Greenhouse) 19,100.00 X 19,100.00 286.23  
B Chicken Coop 76,590.00   76,590.00 1,148.00  
C Piggery 55,540.00 8,100.00 47,440.00 710.00  
  TOTAL 375,980.00 70,100.00 305,880.00 4,583.23  
Sl. No. Particulars     INR DOLLARS  
1 Total Expenditures     375,980.00 5,634.00  
2 Amount through In-Kind Service   70,100.00 1,051.00  
3 Amount required to be raised   305,880.00 4,583.23