A well-functioning society is the result of healthy and fulfilled individuals. From childhood, it is essential that each society as a whole supports its people’s basic physiological needs, which in South Africa, are also fundamental Human Rights.
Food gardens in schools are a simple, yet effective way of meeting these needs. EduPlant, Food & Trees for Africa’s (FTFA) award-winning programme, in partnership with Tiger Brands, is the country’s longest-running and most impactful school greening and gardening programme. Through EduPlant, the partnership is nourishing the minds and bodies of the next generation.
These school food gardens are a national imperative to improve food security and integrated learning, as well as reduce the prevalence of stunting and malnutrition. According to Robyn Hills, Head of Programmes at FTFA, “school gardens demonstrate a healthier relationship to food and our food-system. EduPlant builds tangible examples of how we can have greater power over how we grow our food and what we eat.”
Everyone should have access to healthy, nutritious meals, and nutrition is a key dimension of food security. However, Oxfam has reported that childhood stunting in South Africa has increased to 26.5%. Hunger and malnutrition are also linked to poor concentration and performance at school.
Healthier ways of growing food that promote sustainability and lead to self-sufficiency are thus more important than ever. “Growing food at school level allows young children to learn by doing,” says Bharathi Tugh, EduPlant Manager and Education Associate at FTFA. “And ‘doing’ builds agency, skills and choice.”
Over the course of 2022 and 2023, the EduPlant Programme has been creating fully-fledged, flourishing permaculture school food gardens in 300 schools nationwide. These 300 schools operate in thirty community-linked clusters, enabling the benefits of the programme to extend to the surrounding households and communities as well.
Thanks to FTFA’s continued partnership with Tiger Brands, the programme positively impacts the lives of hundreds of learners, community members, and educators. Thus far, four permaculture workshops have been conducted in each of the clusters. Throughout 2023, EduPlant will continue to teach techniques that care for the environment and empower the learners with sustainable food-growing practices and knowledge. ”Learner involvement, increased food production, and access to healthy, nutritious food is a fundamental outcome for us at EduPlant.” says Nosiphelo Nikani, EduPlant Coordinator.
“Our relationship with Food & Trees for Africa through the Eduplant programme allows us to fulfil a fundamental purpose as a business, which is to nourish and nurture more lives every day in a sustainable manner. Human rights have everything to do with being able to empower people to care for their own basic needs by giving them the right tools, skill and knowledge that will set them and whole communities up for a better life,” says Lulu Khumalo, External Affairs Director, Tiger Brands.
Following the cluster workshops, schools will be shortlisted and selected for the prestigious EduPlant competition and finals. This is based on the quality of their school food garden PoE as well as their overall enthusiasm and commitment to the EduPlant Programme.