University of Stellenbosch: School vegetable gardens impact learners and community | India Education | Latest Education News | World Education News
Thanks to the Jala Peo Food and Nutrition Garden project, each participating primary school on the Dry West Coast now has a well-maintained vegetable garden that promotes learner agricultural learning and produces food-for-nutrition programs in schools and communities. communities.
This feat for the original 19 primary schools is the culmination of four years of hard work and collaboration between various stakeholders, including the University of Stellenbosch (SU), says Ms Sunet Anderson, Jala Peo School Food and Nutrition Project Coordinator Garden at Jet Education Services. , a Johannesburg-based organization that focuses on improving the education of underprivileged South Africans.
The collaboration between most stakeholders, including the University, continues this year. They share the vision of introducing vegetable gardens in disadvantaged schools to eradicate hunger and advance education. “Stakeholders are eager to help when it comes to eradicating hunger, especially among children, and promoting education. Their contributions help turn these goals into reality,” says Anderson.
By signing a memorandum of understanding with Jet late last year, SU is fulfilling an important role in establishing a cost account and managing project funds. “The project is therefore self-sufficient and now locally managed instead of operating through the funding and management of a central agent,” says Anderson.
Continuing the collaboration this year, SU is offering water gardening training and facilitating liaison with Power Ponics, a non-profit company tasked with installing aquaponics in select schools. The University also provides curriculum-aligned teacher training materials.
Vegetable gardens in harsh and arid conditions
The partner primary schools are in the difficult, arid and underserved areas near Vredendal, Bitterfontein, Klawer, Doringbaai and Vanrijnsdorp – all in the municipal district of Matzikama.
In 2018, 19 schools joined the pilot phase of the project due to an urgent need for infrastructure and educational development. Last year, six more schools were added.
By participating in the project, the schools had to overcome a variety of challenges that ran counter to their gardening plans. By finding solutions, they managed to mitigate the environmental and meteorological difficulties.
Finally, all the schools achieved their goals of creating well-kept and productive gardens, which are part of the day-to-day management of the schools. “In addition to this, they have also incorporated the garden project into the learners’ school curriculum, provided fresh produce for school nutrition programs, and encouraged environmental greening,” says Anderson.
In reflecting on this social impact initiative, Anderson points out that all stakeholders have learned valuable lessons and best practices around sustainable gardening in challenging environments. Most lessons involve alleviating water scarcity, harsh weather conditions, poor soil quality, low human capacity, gravel roads and large distances.
“Thanks to funding from a broad stakeholder base, the schools received infrastructure to better cope with the harsh climatic conditions on the west coast, including shade netting structures and rainwater tanks.
“The Ministry of Agriculture has played an important role in building human capacity and skills by training gardeners, teachers and community members in land preparation and vegetable production.
“The Ministry of Health has contributed by delivering nutrition workshops to learners, community members and food handlers as part of the National School Nutrition Programme, using vegetables from school gardens to prepare the learner meals,” says Anderson.
In general, this project focuses on maintaining and developing school gardens on the West Coast, possibly extending the project to other schools in the Western Cape and exploring more funding opportunities and research possibilities, explains Anderson. Recently, Syngenta joined us as a major funder.
The SU is committed to remaining involved in a project that has a broad societal impact. “I am very passionate about this project which has a huge impact on the community,” says Mr. Henk Stander of the SU Faculty of Agricultural Sciences. Stander presented an aquaponics training workshop to some of the school teachers.
Impact on schools and the community
One of the participating schools is Steilhoogte Primary near Vredendal. The school’s fully functioning vegetable garden produces vegetables for the school and the community. The school garden project was so successful that they were able to expand to develop a nursery that produces seedlings for other school gardens.
Mr. Manus Spamer, director of Steilhoogte Primary, praises the project and its many opportunities. “It’s fantastic to be enabled by all the knowledge sharing, training, funding and support to grow vegetables,” says Spamer.
Spamer states that in addition to learners mastering the vegetable garden, the garden also produces much-needed food. “We supply fresh produce to the school kitchen and use garden waste to feed our pig farms or to create compost,” explains Spamer.Jala Peo Steilhoogte.jpg
Steilhoogte Primary now operates as a community center that promotes agricultural practices in the community, where gardening in residences is also encouraged.
This year, the school began exploring opportunities to expand farming operations to include packing, cooling and transporting fresh produce, Spamer says.