Left: Pupils are being taught by EduPlant to become self-reliant.
Schools across the country that grow their own permaculture gardens could stand a chance of winning up to R25 000 by entering their food gardens into the 2012 EduPlant Schools Competition. The EduPlant competition is an opportunity to reward schools that promote food security, improved nutrition and self-reliance in communities. EduPlant is developed and coordinated by Food & Trees for Africa.
EduPlant is a permaculture food gardening and greening programme teaching schools how to cultivate their own food in an ecologically sustainable manner. Through permaculture techniques, communities are recognising the value of recycling waste, creating their own organic compost and employing biological agents in place of harmful pesticides and fertilisers.
“The programme has provided improved nutrition for thousands of learners across the country, enabling them to perform better at their studies and generate an income source for unemployed parents through the sale of additional produce,” says Lauren Howard, spokesperson for Eduplant.
The programme has been operating for the past 19 years across South Africa. This year the programme is funded by Absa, Engen and the Woolworths Trust who committed R12 million rand to EduPlant over three years since 2009.
According to Statistics South Africa (research dated 2003 – 2009), over 3 million children in South Africa go to school hungry each day.
“By teaching learners, educators and the surrounding communities to sustainably grow their own produce, the EduPlant programme aims to alleviate food shortages in indigent communities.”
About 500 schools are expected to take part in the competition this year, with 60 schools representing all nine provinces chosen to participate in the finals in October. Each finalist school receives
R1 500 and is invited to the awards gala held in. There are 21 cash prizes ranging from R5 000 to R25 000, which could contribute towards additional educational and gardening resources for the winning schools. Schools also stand a chance to win a two week permacultrue design course for their project leaders. Entries to the EduPlant competition close on 28 May 2012 and the 60 finalists are announced on 1 September 2012.
The benefits of participating in the annual EduPlant programme are significant, as schools become hubs of environmental awareness, sustainable learning and nutritional knowledge.
Some schools gain income from the production and sale of fruit and vegetables and involve unemployed parents and neighbours in the gardening effort.
One of the most remarkable participants in past competitions is Mrs Joyce Mabaso, Principal of Magudu Primary who, over the years, has won every category in the competition.
“Before we discovered the EduPlant programme, we sat waiting for desks, waiting for the classrooms to be painted, waiting, waiting … It has changed my mind.” she says. “I realized that we didn’t have to sit and wait for things to happen , we could make things happen ourselves,” Joyce says.
Magudu Primary now has orchards, a banana plantation and they grow flowers and herbs in addition to vegetables. They also keep chickens and pigs. They have a nursery, seven water tanks, a borehole, a greenhouse and a citrus grove is planned.
The school acts as a learning hub for the Bushbuckridge area and is sharing its seeds and knowledge with over 200 surrounding schools. Joyce is proud that their nursery has been able to donate some 30 trees to each school to get them started.
If you want your school to enter the EduPlant competition this year, then please contact Joanne Carty at Food & Trees for Africa on email@example.com for details.