In celebration of October’s World Food Day, a volunteer cohort of over 200 employees from Woolies stores across the country rolled up their sleeves and went to work with learners in ten schools’ permaculture food gardens. As part of the Woolworths Employee Community Involvement Programme, this initiative recognised the importance of local, sustainably-produced, good food and helped these schools take their food gardens to the next level.
Groups of 20 volunteers worked side by side with learners and educators to dig new beds, mulch, compost, plant and water. In addition, to the volunteer time and ‘sweat equity’ from their local Woolies stores, schools also benefit from donations of compost, seedlings and tools.
The 2017 theme for World Food Day, which is commemorated on the 16th of October, is ‘Change the future of migration. Invest in food security and rural development’. As one of South Africa’s big five food retailers, Woolworths partnered with the EduPlant Programme over twelve years ago and has been the main funder of the programme in an effort to improve food security in vulnerable communities. As the country’s leading food gardening programme, EduPlant, initiated and managed by Food & Trees for Africa, provides free workshops for educators to learn permaculture skills. Freshly grown vegetables, fruits and herbs from productive food gardens play an important role in supplementing the school’s feeding scheme and can also generate additional income through the sale of excess produce to the local community.
“This will be the first time that our store employees will be participating in an EduPlant volunteer day,” says Aweza Ozman, Store Manager of Woolies Vangate Mall store, “It’s a wonderful opportunity to go out into our community, join the kids in getting our hands dirty and learn all about permaculture food gardening while helping to expand the garden and boost their school’s sustainable food production.”
“The EduPlant volunteer day empowers employees at Woolies stores around the country to make a difference in their communities,” says Zinzi Mgolodela, Director of Corporate Affairs at Woolworths, “Every day, our employees work with the commitment to make good food that is sustainably produced available through our national network of stores. This is a way for them to give up some of their time to have a different kind of good food experience which is really inspiring as it is improving the lives of South Africans in need.”