In 2013 a study by the African Food Security Urban Network found that 12 million South Africans are food insecure. This in a country that is generally food secure.
South Africa’s Vision 2030, better known as the National Development Plan, identified food security as an important target in meeting the objectives of the NDP.
A project in Cape Town funded by Woolworths MySchool MyVillage MyPlanet fund is creating food security for a group of pupils in Observatory and Salt River. The edible garden planted at Observatory Junior School will produce 10 kg’s of fresh vegetables daily, allowing the 1 500 pupils at Dryden Primary School, Mary-Kihn Primary and Observatory Junior School to enjoy a healthy fresh meal.
Helene Brand, MySchool’s CSI Manager, explained that the Salt River/ Observatory area was home to many households unable to provide a packed lunch. A secondary benefit she pointed out, “The edible garden at Observatory Junior School is our contribution towards giving more learners access to fresh food and a living garden where they can learn how to grow food and take responsibility for the upkeep of the garden.”
The garden at Observatory Primary is 400 square meters and includes 40 different varietals of vegetables and herbs – aubergine, tomato, spinach, leeks, cabbage, broccoli, beetroot, rosemary, thyme, basil and many more.
Harvested produce is shared between all three schools, and is the base for the healthy lunch provided to learners every day. All three schools will also use the garden as an educational resource centre, actively involving learners in managing the garden. They will plant and harvest what they’ve grown, giving them a lifelong skill.
Andy Clark, head of transformation at Woolworths Financial Services, said: “We’ve worked with all three schools through our participation in the Community of Learning Principals and the Partners for Possibility initiative and wanted to continue supporting them, so they can continue on their journey to be more sustainable and independent. They are run by highly committed staff and are motivated to participate in initiatives that will benefit their learners.
“We are hoping to roll out more gardens at schools in the area, contributing to the communities in which we operate.”
YOU REAP WHAT YOU SOW
More than half of Urban Harvest, the company that established the garden, 250 edible garden projects are based at schools in the greater Cape Town area. They seed gardens and help maintain and train people until they are self-sustainable.
Explaining their philosophy Urban Harvest’s Ben Getz said: “The edible garden teaches learners that ‘you reap what you sow’. In the garden hard work pays off in many ways and the learners gain a greater sense of responsibility.
“They also gain a sensitivity to and an appreciation for quiet, meditative, slow time when weeding or feeding the garden. They learn about keeping space neat and organised and a respect for nature and its lessons.”
In 2013 the Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, Tina Joemat-Pettersson launched Fetsa Tlala – an initiative aimed at improving household food security and stimulating sustainable job creation in the poorest districts of the country.
This initiative ensures that underutilised agricultural land is put under production to increase local access to food.
Fetsa Tlala will be financed through, amongst others, the Comprehensive Agriculture Support Programme (CASP). Allocations to provinces will be dedicated to food production, either crop or livestock production. More inclination, however, is towards the production of staple food such as maize, beans, wheat, sunflower, ground nuts and potatoes.
CASP is the Department of Agriculture Forestry and Fisheries’ premier support programme and is funded through the Division of Revenue Act.