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Growing a love for gardening

Growing a love for gardening

More than half of the pupils at Woodlands primary school are fed at their place of learning every day. At the launch of Woodville Primary’s food garden on Friday October 7, deputy principal Shahied Barendse, said as many as 700 of their 1160 pupils were fed daily, by the National School Nutrition Programme.

This increases to 750 pupils on a Tuesday, when samp and beans is on offer. “They love their samp and beans,” he said.

However, he said, the programme could not reach all pupils in need.

“We need organisations such as FTFA (Food and Trees For Africa) to further support the food security concerns of our learners and community at large,” he said.

Mr Barendse said that having a school food garden was one of the best ways to supplement meals for pupils and that they were grateful for more than a year-long partnership with FTFA.

The non-profit organisation addresses food security, environmental sustainability and greening via market garden programmes; community tree planting to transform shared spaces; school food gardens to ensure pupils have access to healthy nutritious food.

Mr Barendse said about a month ago after their first harvest, they made more than R300, for just about an hour’s work.

The crops were sold to teachers.

Next, he said, the school would like to erect a fence around the garden, which supplements the feeding scheme, and start a nursery.

FTFA’s Tori Coldrey, an ecopreneur, who visits the school weekly, and works with community gardener Adolf Smith said: “The best time to plant a tree was yesterday but we do what we can today to build a better future’’.

Teacher Marvin Hess, gardener Adolf Smith, and teacher Frank Wiehahn.

Mr Smith, from Strandfontein, was a runner-up in Soil for Life’s 2019 Home Food Gardening Awards.

He had completed a 12-week programme, which included step-by-step tuition, home visits and resources to grow his own food.

“It was rough. This was nothing,” he said pointing to the beds where cabbage, spinach, beetroot, spring onion and cauliflower are now growing.

The food garden launch follows a process of working the earth, planting trees and having pupils plant seeds in cups, which they took home to nurture.

“It is about growing the love for gardening,” said Mr Smith.

Ms Coldrey said the school had converted sand into healthy soil, wherein they could plant various fruit, vegetables, herbs and trees for shade.

Guest Grant Twigg, mayoral committee member for urban waste management, said they would “definitely support such initiatives”.

Food and Trees For Africa ecopreneur Tori Coldrey, from Heathfield, and mayoral committee member for urban waste management Grant Twigg.

He said that such food gardens should be launched every day to preempt the impact of pandemics, like Covid-19.

“We should not wait for surprises to come and a food parcel hand-out.

“We should be ready and we should start young, with our little ones, preparing more green spaces and fingers to feed a nation,” he said.

Mr Twigg said outside of the school walls children are taught about gangsterism but they could be learning about gardening.

Representing the sponsors, at the back, from the left, are Primedia Outdoor’s Western Cape executive Steve Duck and marketing manager Micheline Petersen. In front are marketing and marketing services executive Jorja Wilkins and gardener Adolf Smith.
Woodville Primary School pupils work the earth.

Published 12 October 2022 by Plainsman