Farmer Torks the gardener

BY: The Mirror
A toddler watering some plants
A toddler watering some plants

In life, only a few are able to follow their childhood passions.

Most people switch interest in their hobbies and even future careers as they grow and take up other things they never dreamt of doing.

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Her penchant for gardening had always been part of her as a child when she used to plant vegetables, together with her father, in their home. Fueled by this passion from infancy, Naa Adobea Torkornoo is imparting her knowledge in gardening to schoolchildren.

Known as Farmer Torks, Mrs Torkornoo, who loves to work with young children, told The Mirror that basically children appreciated things they had created by themselves and would hardly want to destroy it.


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Mrs Torkornoo and her family

Mrs Torkornoo explained that children learn best when they engage all their senses. With gardening, children can touch and feel the dirt, seeds and flowers, see the vibrant colours and varied sizes of the plants, hear the sound of the vegetable when it is taken from the plant and smell the amazing scents of the flowers.

“Allowing all the senses to be involved helps children to understand and grasp the concept of gardening along with all the math and scientific concepts that go along with it,” she stated.

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Mrs Torkornoo taking some children through some gardening skills

Narrating to The Mirror her gardening experience as a child, Mrs Torkornoo said her father loved planting fruits and vegetables. As a result, she also took the opportunity to plant groundnuts, maize, beans, pepper and tomatoes.

“It was simply fun to watch the plants germinating, flowering and eventually starting to bear fruits for consumption. We depended so much on the rains; therefore, during the rainy season, my father made us to plant a variety of crops which we harvested and shared among friends and family,” she revealed.

Some seedlings on display during the fair which was held at the GREDA Estate at Teshie, Accra

At the moment, she has her own garden at home where she has planted lettuce, basil, spinach, mint, dwarf coconut and many more.

Her outfit, which is called Farmer Torks Greeneries, supplies compost (compost is an organic matter that has been decomposed. It is rich in nutrients and used in gardens, landscaping and horticulture).

They also supply farm tools and seedlings like noni, black pepper, cinnamon and star fruit.

Gardening with children

Mrs Torkornoo taking some children through some gardening skills

She noted that eating healthy food was essential for brain and body development but it could be hard at times to get them to eat fruits and vegetables.

“By having them grow their own beans, tomatoes, pepper, cucumber, carrots and lettuce, they will have a sense of pride in eating what they have ‘created,” she pointed out.

She also indicated that gardening was a great way to teach children about responsibility and explained that they had to take care of their seeds each day in order for them to become healthy plants.

When it comes to teamwork, gardening in groups helps to boost leadership skills. This is because as the leaders of their groups, children are given the responsibility to ensure that their plants grow up beautiful.

“This looks like a simple task but highly challenging for children because they have more than two plants to be watching over. Therefore, if you lose concentration one might not do very well or even die off,” she stated.

Mrs Torkornoo said gardening “goes a long way to enhance fine motor development. For example, scooping up the dirt, placing the seeds in the pots and pouring the water all take fine motor control and strength. As children garden, they develop important motor skills that will help them improve their academic skills such as writing, cutting and typing.”

Gardening with recycled items

Mrs Torkornoo believes in making gardening more attractive and less expensive.

According to her, you don’t need a wider space in your backyard before you conceive the idea of growing plants in your home.

“Sometimes it is expensive for people to buy pots to even plant a flower. However, you can recycle items such as old car tyres, mineral water bottles and gallons (those we refer to as Kufuor gallon) to kick start your gardening,” she pointed out.

Affirming that currently plastic bottles and plastic bags are the most prevalent form of pollution found on our beaches and around our homes, she stated: “If we encourage schoolchildren to use such bottles to plant their favourite vegetables, it would go a long way to reduce the harm on the environment.”

“Moreover, it is easy to get seeds to plant in our homes. For instance, we buy beans to cook for the family to eat; therefore, you can pick some seeds from it and plant. Whenever we want to grind tomatoes, we remove the seeds and throw them away in the sinks. Instead, you can pour the seed in your backyard or pots and they would germinate. In no time you would save some money you use for buying some vegetables.”

Flower fair

 A girl proudly displaying her vegetables that are ready for harvest

Recently, Mrs Torkornoo organised a two-day fair within her neighbourhood at the GREDA Estate at Teshie, Accra. The fair brought together schoolchildren, lovers of plants, farm fresh vegetables and fruits, chocolate makers, among others.

At her garden centre located at the Greda Estate off Spintex Road, she organises garden lessons for families, schools, and children.

Family/education

Mrs Torkornoo described herself as a Ga-Fante married to an Ewe. She pursued French and Law at the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) for her first degree.

She continued to the Benin-Universite d'Abomey Calavie and afterwards pursued a post-graduate degree in Women Entrepreneurial Leadership for Africa, a CEIBS-WELA programme.

She is married to Mr Edwin Torkornoo with whom they have two children: Esimebea and Selikem.

Mrs Torkornoo works with the Cocoa Department of Olam Ghana Limited. As a social entrepreneur, she believes daily gardening chores such as watering, weeding, mulching and harvesting are all great ways to augment an exercise regimen.

Therefore, if you think gardening is reserved until after retirement, think again!