29 April 2024 – A new EduPlant school greening cycle has started, bringing a shift in strategy that aims to enhance the sustainability of Food & Trees for Africa’s (FTFA’s) and the EduPlant Programme’s footprint within schools and communities. 

Now in its 30th year, the EduPlant School Gardening and Nutrition Programme is the largest and most impactful school greening programme in Southern Africa. Initiated and run by FTFA and supported by Tiger Brands, the programme is based on permaculture principles and systems thinking that fosters school-linked food security clusters in under-resourced communities and townships

“EduPlant empowers communities, promotes environmental sustainability, and develops food secure schools. Previous cycles have created waves of change. Successful schools don’t just cultivate food, but also hope, resilience, and prosperity – by enriching knowledge and entrepreneurial opportunities,” says Bharathi Tugh, EduPlant Manager and FTFA Education Associate.

Each EduPlant cycle runs over two years. FTFA carefully evaluates applicants and selects host schools with the requisite capabilities (Centre of Excellence), poised to have a multiplier effect on the schools around them through EduPlant’s resource provision, mentorship and curriculum integration measures. They also serve as a model site for good environmental practices, aesthetic pride, proactive garden setup, and ongoing ecological practices.

The programme’s impact comes from a wealth of experience and knowledge. “FTFA understands the schools’ dynamics; the EduPlant Programme has responded by exploring ways of adding value to the curriculum, providing teacher support, and encouraging community and learner involvement,” Tugh explains. “Workshop content is aligned with the CAPS curriculum; we provide much-needed educational materials, conduct training workshops, and supply planting inputs. The facilitators’ meticulous planning, motivation, and execution of workshops ensure maximum learning and replicable practical activities.”

School leadership is also critical. Management teams focus on the bigger picture: their learners’ future, success potential, and creating the best possible learning environments. Workshops follow a structured programme, with resources planned according to the content taught on-site and aligned with practical activities. Communication between project leaders, facilitators, and schools is essential: briefing and debriefing sessions ensure nationwide uniformity and quality. 

The programme culminates in the EduPlant Finals competition, with incentives awarded to high-performing schools. Mfesane Secondary School (Eastern Cape) was the national EduPlant winner for 2022/23. Two Limpopo primary schools – Mookgopong and Mbhureni – claimed second and third place respectively.

The 2024/25 EduPlant Programme rollout began in January 2024, and schools have already been onboarded in their cluster areas. Strategic changes include reducing the number of schools to 150, many of which are previous EduPlant or FTFA school garden beneficiaries. These schools have existing gardens in place, enabling EduPlant to deepen its impact and strengthen knowledge-sharing. 

This has already begun to take root in this cycle’s first workshop. Schools received a variety of seeds and valuable educational resources, including a Growing Green Manual, posters, and activity books. “The content taught laid the foundation for a fruitful cycle,” says Tugh. Topics covered included the objectives and alignment of permaculture with the curriculum; understanding and applying permaculture ethics and principles; garden design, soil management, and seedbed preparation; and techniques for compiling a portfolio of evidence.

“I’m honoured to be part of this inspiring school greening programme. I’ve witnessed tangible results and positive impacts from deep rural areas to urban schools,” says EduPlant Administrator Curtis Kuyanie. “We have turned sad stories into beautiful ones, as schools share the impact of improved access to nutrient-rich food. I look forward to another successful cycle, with even greater impact.”

climate awareness, combatting malnutrition, education, environmental education, food security, nutrition, school food garden projects, school food gardening, youth in agriculture
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