06 July 2022 – Food & Trees for Africa (FTFA)’s EduPlant Programme, in partnership with Tiger Brands, is laying the foundation for school-based nutrition epicentres. The programme aims to supplement meals provided by schools and the National School Nutrition Programme (NSNP) with fresh vegetables, herbs and fruit by supporting school food gardening activities.
The programme runs over a two-year cycle and is currently half way through year one of two, having recently accomplished the enormous task of onboarding 300 new EduPlant schools. Tools, training and educational materials have been provided. Workshops and resource provision will continue for the next 18 months!
The programme culminates in the competition finals at the end of 2023, where schools will be shortlisted and selected to participate in the prestigious EduPlant finals event. Winners are selected based on various criteria which include: thriving school gardens, integration of permaculture in the curriculum, understanding, innovation and the portfolio of evidence, as well as their commitment to the EduPlant Programme. The impact of the programme is measured by the change of attitude in environmental awareness, increased knowledge and skills for growing food sustainably, and the integration of learning gardens in the curriculum.
The EduPlant Programme was initiated in 1994. Tiger Brands has been the programme partner for the past three years. The EduPlant youth-led gardens have grown year-on-year, and they continue to lay the foundations of food sovereignty for our communities. Gardens bring marginalised groups together with the most practical of interventions – nutrition and food security. The programme creates a number of school and community clusters, which develop into epicentres for nutrition and food security. These clusters are strengthened with each new EduPlant cycle. The school clusters are fortified further by “school-linked farms”; community members who can grow food at a larger scale to supply one or more schools.
“As a food producer, Tiger Brands is in a unique position to help address the growing challenge of hunger amongst vulnerable communities across South Africa. However, it’s more than just providing what we have, it is using our available resources to implement initiatives and to partner with like minded organisations, such as Food & Trees for Africa, to equip and empower people to support their own nutritional needs in a sustainable manner. That way, they are not dependent on others, where their basic need of access to sufficient, safe and nutrition food are concerned,” says Preeya Naidu, Social Transformation Manager, Tiger Brands.
Over the last twenty-eight years, FTFA has found that EduPlant’s impact extends well beyond the learners and school. External monitoring and evaluation showed that over 60% of learners and community members involved in the workshops replicate the learned activities in their homesteads. This often means that it is the learners who take control of their food sovereignty and encourage their parents to start growing their own food.
Nosiphelo Nkani, EduPlant Programme Coordinator, points out that “the skills development aspect of the EduPlant Programme plays a vital role in empowering schools and communities to improve their livelihoods, and to supply school-aged children with nutritious and healthy meals. Successful food gardens can be income-generating sites too.”