Food security is a worldwide issue and it has long been agreed that household food gardens can alleviate the stress of finding extra money to buy vegetables, particularly in disadvantaged homes.
It is an idea carried through to many school and urban food gardens across South Africa, such as at Chapel Street Primary School in the city suburb of Woodstock, in Cape Town. The school, together with its partners MySchool MyVillage MyPlanet, one of South Africa’s biggest fundraising programmes; retailer Woolworths; and Urban Harvest, South Africa’s oldest edible garden service, recently celebrated the first harvest from the school’s edible garden.
At the celebrations held at the school, the meals were prepared with produce from the garden by chef Sue-Ann Allen, a former MasterChef contestant.
There are 350 pupils at the school who need meals each day, but the feeding scheme only provides for about 100 to 150 children. The garden supplements the meals, but is also an educational tool for all the grades.
“Learners from many different areas in Cape Town come to school at Chapel Street every day, many of them without a packed lunch and from homes where there are no gardens,” said Pieter Twine, MySchool’s general manager.
“This edible garden 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. Hopefully the garden will also spark community and public interest in the school and in urban food gardens.”
ONE WHO PLANTS A GARDEN PLANTS HAPPINESS
Chapel Street’s garden yields nearly 10kg of fresh produce every day, benefitting the school’s 580 learners, many of whom come to school hungry and rely on the meal they get at school.
Established in July with the planting of nearly 3 200 seedlings, including many different varietals of vegetables and herbs, the 400m2 garden produces broccoli, spinach, celery, turnips, curly kale, flat kale, beetroot, lettuce, parsley, rosemary, lavender, lemon verbena, cabbage, leeks and much more.
Along with being a food source, the edible garden is included in the school curriculum wherever possible. It also provides a source of extramural activities, such as the garden club at the school.
“Chapel Street Primary was identified as an under-resourced school in our area and has been our flagship school this year,” said Sivi Pillay, chief executive of Woolworths Financial Services.
“We’ve been working with them 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. Chapel Street Primary is run by highly committed staff who are motivated to participate in initiatives that will benefit their learners.”