We celebrated Arbor Month by planting 652 fruit and 475 indigenous trees as part of Shoprite’s Act For Change programme. A further 126 trees will be planted at food gardens across South Africa during the next month. This raises the total number of trees planted to 1153 over the last year of the three-year programme.
Mokone Primary School plants an orchard
These orchards provide much needed fruit-based nutrition to supplement the diets of school children and community members in under-resourced areas. This is particularly important as malnutrition is common in these areas.
Mokone Primary School in Langa, Western Cape hosted a tree-planting event on 4 September 2019. Members of the press, the school, the community, Shoprite and Food & Trees for Africa attended. Food & Trees for Africa (FTFA) is the implementation partner for Shoprite’s Act For Change initiative. We have been working with Mokone Primary School’s food garden since January 2019. Productivity and yield has increased through Shoprite’s support in the form of training, resources and infrastructure.
FTFA’s facilitators identified the school’s garden as suitable for an orchard – two full-time gardeners, a dedicated food garden committee and an engaged garden club of 14 learners from Grade 4 and 5 have been attending workshops over the last year. “With the support and funding from Shoprite and FTFA, we’ve seen a measurable difference. We now have a well point, a fence to protect the garden from vandalism, and improved soil fertility through the use of compost and mulch. We’ve learned how to get better results using the resources around us to make fertiliser teas and much more,” said Mrs. Mafenuka, Garden Coordinator and teacher at Mokone Primary School.
Planting for drought conditions
Following a thorough tree planting demonstration, the group planted peach, plum, apple and clementine trees. Each tree was planted in a ‘mulch pit’ – a hole dug into the ground, filled with compost and dry leaves. This is to ensure they retain as much water and nutrition as possible. Next, small holes were punched into the bottom of a 2-litre plastic bottle. The bottle was planted alongside each tree to create a homemade drip irrigation system. The bottle prevents evaporation during the hot dry summer months by allowing water to seep directly to the roots. The school gardeners planted the remaining 20 trees during the course of the week to create a mini-orchard. The team from Food & Trees for Africa provided ongoing support and training on tree maintenance.
Green spaces in communities
The event drives home the need for greener spaces in communities like Langa. Trees increase biodiversity, create a source of food and income, as well as absorb carbon dioxide. Green spaces also highlight the importance of sustainable food gardening to increase food security and enhance nutrition. Mokone Primary School Principal, Dominic Raphahlelo said, “Our hope is that by helping with cultivation and doing their part, the pupils know they can survive using the skills they’ve learnt gardening, while contributing positively to society.”
FTFA and Shoprite also support Siyabulela Primary School’s food garden, less than a kilometre away. Shoprite supports a total of 9 food gardens in the Western Cape (and 91 across South Africa). These food gardens have the potential to grow a substantial amount of food and bolster food security locally. Ultimately, the aim is for the food gardens to have a positive ripple effect throughout the community. We hope they inspire others to grow their own food. “We know that the gardens are making a difference if a community member walks past and asks for advice on starting their own garden or wants to join the workshops,” said Christopher List, FTFA facilitator.