Except for the big cities, there is no official solution for disposing of organic and inorganic waste in Ghana. While organic waste can be used to produce compost, getting rid of inorganic waste in an environmentally sound way is rather more challenging. The centre will be equipped with waste recycling stations to separate organic and inorganic waste. These will be used to raise awareness of community members about both, the importance of separating organic and inorganic waste, and alternatives to open dumping of municipal solid waste. The gathered inorganic waste will be recycled in an appropriate way to avoid any detrimental effects on environmental or human health.
Sanitation systems in Ghana, if existent at all, are poor. Many people go to the bush or use the beach for defecating, which contributes to environmental pollution. An easy alternative to these issues are natural sawdust toilets. By covering faeces with sawdust, an optimal carbon/nitrogen (C/N) ratio of the mixture is maintained, which prevents the development of unpleasant odours and allows bacteria to decompose the faeces into valuable organic fertilizers. There is a well-functioning example of such a toilet at the Eco-Lodge “Escape 3 Points” in nearby Akwidaa (Cape Three Points, southernmost point in Ghana). Collaboration with Escape 3 Points for building of the facility is possible. The compost produced in this way has a relatively low amount of nutrients (high C/N ratio), and is this ideal to fertilize the lawns and trees located around the centre. In addition, the organic waste of both the kitchen and from waste recycling sites located around the centre will be gathered to produce a second compost with a relatively high amount of nutrients (low C/N ratio). Since vegetable require high soil fertility, this compost will essentially be used for the organic vegetable, spice & medicine garden, as well as for other crops and trees who might be in short-term need of substantial amounts of nutrients.
Ghana experiences regular power cuts, and the majority of people use firewood, charcoal or fossil gas to prepare food, which puts pressure on natural forests and non-renewable energy sources. The centre will pioneer the introduction of a photovoltaic-biogas hybrid plant for independent production and storage of both electricity and biogas for cooking, and thereby demonstrate that there are alternatives to the unsustainable practices that are commonly used. The leftover biogas slurry can be used to produce compost.
Having been employed by the Research Institute of Organic Agriculture (FiBL) in Switzerland for more than five years, and being a passionate gardener himself, the President of OPC Switzerland will spearhead the installation of a perennial plantation, as well as an elaborate vegetable, spice and medicine garden. We will plant perennial crops such as cashew nut, cocoa, coconut, coffee, oil palm, plantain and rubber. In addition, fruit trees such as avocado, banana, citrus, and mango, medicinal trees such as Moringa, fertilizer trees such as Gliricidia, as well as high value timber trees such as Emire, Odum, Ofram or Mahogany will grow on the land, providing shade, food, fibre and medicine. However, the centre will still purchase produce from the local community, and thereby ensure information exchange, strengthen local markets and foster sustainable crop production in the community.
There will be a large open-air kitchen, which will cater for both residents and the restaurant attached to the guesthouse. The whole structure will be shaded and well-equipped so that the preparation of meals will be a pleasure and people will have a relaxed and loving mind-set while preparing meals, which is essential for the quality of the prepared food. The kitchen will also be used to give cooking classes about preparing wholesome meals that contain all the essential nutrients needed for a healthy diet. Attached to the main guesthouse, there will be a restaurant and Moringa juice bar catering for all guests and residents. The Baobab Children Foundation (located near Cape Coast) runs an own restaurant and Moringa juice bar, and collaboration with them for building of the facility is possible.
A complex of guesthouses will lodge several people who wish to live and learn in the centre, and help to develop it. Several structures in different settings will cater for different needs. There will be basic structures built from natural materials such as bamboo and raffia palm. The main guesthouse will have several simple rooms. Once the trees on the land will have grown, several tree houses may be built attached to the canopy walk, which could be used as open-air residences by locals or guests. All these structures will use shared open-air bathrooms. A few self-contained bungalows will cater for those wishing more private accommodation.
Africa has a long tradition of herbal medicine. Many of the diseases and ailments common to life in Africa can be cured using traditional medicines, and the Director Health of OPC Ghana holds a wealth of knowledge about the local flora’s medicinal values. The herbal clinic will provide a serene environment for the practice of herbal healing by local herbalists. Furthermore, an inventory of the local flora and its medicinal uses will be elaborated and used for teaching purposes. Besides herbs, spices hold an immense intrinsic medical potential. Both the President of OPC Switzerland and the Director Health of OPC Ghana have considerable practical experience in the use of spices. In addition, a more classical way of nursing will also be practiced at the centre. The combination of traditional African, as well as Eastern and Western medicine holds a great potential to make for a complete health system.
One of the centre’s most important structures will be the vocational school, which will run a curriculum that complements the subjects taught in public schools. The centre’s residents, as well as national and international guest teachers will be offering various courses in their respective fields of expertise. The President of OPC Switzerland has good contacts to many teachers in Switzerland who may be interested to teach particular courses at the centre. An exchange programme between pedagogical institutions of the two countries is also possible. In this vocational school, pupils can choose a particular focus area that fits best with their individual personality. They will essentially learn practical skills that may be associated to any of the structures that are part of the centre.
Once the trees on the land will have grown, a canopy walk may be installed in order to view the centre from the air. The canopy walk may connect or integrate the tree houses mentioned under the guesthouse section of the website, which may serve as appropriate sites for storytelling to kids in order to educate them about the value of trees and nature. Collaboration with Kakum National Park (located in the Central Region) and/or Bunso Arboretum (located in the Eastern Region) for building of the facility is possible.