The EduPlant Programme has mentored school greening, environmental education, and social development since 1995. A new cycle of support kicks off every alternate year and the latest two-year cycle, which will run over the course of 2019-2020, has just started. It aims to guide and inspire schools across the country — existing or new to the programme — to create fully-fledged, flourishing permaculture food gardens.
It is also a significant time as Food & Trees for Africa (FTFA) and The Woolworths Trust are celebrating a partnership of fifteen years. Together, a great deal of positive impact has been made over the years.
In February 2019, FTFA organised thirty-six one-day workshops in these regions:
• Eastern Cape: Grahamstown, Ngcobo, Umtata, King Williams Town
• Free State: Ladybrand, Virginia, QwaQwa, Rouxville
• Gauteng: East Rand Evaton, Hammanskraal, Sedibeng, Soweto, West Rand
• KwaZulu-Natal: Mkhuze, Dundee, iXopo, Osizweni, Mooi River
• Limpopo: Bahananwa, Phalala, Phalaborwa, Sekororo, Vhorga, Phalala
• Mpumalanga: Acornhoek, Bushbuckridge, Likazi, Tonga
• Northern Cape: Kimberley, Upington
• North West Province: Mahikeng, Phaphosane, Stilfontien, Valbosloot
• Western Cape: Macassar, Philippi, Robertson
The educational one-day workshops provide schools with introductory permaculture techniques, methods, skills, and knowledge on how to start and maintain school food gardens. This is also where the FTFA Growing Green books, seeds, and application forms to enroll in the upcoming cluster workshops are handed out.
In the second school term of 2019, which starts shortly, the cluster workshops will be launched. These are open to educators, learners, and community members and are FREE of charge. The cluster workshops are split into seven modules and cover a wide variety of topics, including but not limited to:
• Getting started with a permaculture garden
• Bringing soil back to life
• Being water-wise and making the most of natural resources
• Best practices for growing healthy plants
• How to work with nature to create abundance in the garden
• How to propagate plants, including trees, and growing more plants for free
• Better health through food, nutrition, and making the right eating choices
• Cropping made easy i.e. planting the ‘three sisters’ (maize, beans, pumpkins)
By supporting the improvement of school food gardens, The EduPlant Programme also supplements meals provided by the National School Nutrition Programme (NSNP) feeding scheme.
The power of The EduPlant Programme lies in what it develops: environmental awareness, increased knowledge and skills for growing food sustainably, and the integration of learning gardens in the curriculum. Tshepiso Senetla, EduPlant Programme Coordinator, also points out that “This skills development 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.”