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EduPlant boosts success at schools

Last weekend, South Africa's longest running and most successful schools-based food gardening programme, EduPlant, began the year with five one-day workshops in each province, 45 workshops that will reach thousands of educators. These workshops aim to provide educators with tangible ways to support the estimated 40% of learners who are undernourished and therefore unable to learn properly.

For the learners, educators and community members who attend these workshops, poverty and unemployment are eroded as they gain valuable skills that use local and available resources to transform dustbowls into food forests.

In the 20 years that Food & Trees for Africa (FTFA) has been running this highly effective programme thousands of schools have learned how to create food-rich environments. "Our workshops help schools use the resources that they already have to create permaculture food gardens,? says Joanne Carty, EduPlant programme manager. "We continue to be inspired by the successful implementation of these sustainable practices, such as the changes we have seen at Alabama Primary School in Alabama, Klerksdorp over the past two years. This school epitomises what we are striving towards through the EduPlant programme; schools developing permaculture gardens that make a real difference to learners lives."

The EduPlant programme is made possible through the generous and committed support of Engen and The Woolworths Trust.

Alabama's garden started with one small plot containing six spinach plants after an EduPlant workshop in 2012 and it now comprises of two tunnels, a brand new food forest and a large main garden that provides an on-going supply of fresh vegetables. 'This garden is not a nice thing to have - it is essential! Unemployment and poverty is so great in our community that many children go home to empty kitchens. We knew our garden would never be big enough to feed everyone and so now we use our garden here as a teaching tool to encourage learners to have home food gardens," comments project leader Charlain Strydom.

Not only that - Alabama also has a small foraging garden outside of the school grounds, on the verge, where passers-by can help themselves to whatever is ready to harvest. "This has reduced theft from our garden and now I know that those who are hungry can at least harvest something. EduPlant has shown us that we can make a difference," says Strydom, "and without the workshops and support from EduPlant, funded by Engen and the Woolworths Trust, we would not have known how to help the children."

Like many schools around the country, Alabama's team attended the EduPlant Cluster workshops during which educators, learners and community members gain practical skills in sustainable food gardening. The theme of this term?s workshop is Health and Nutrition - vital for a country where one out of five children lives with hunger and malnutrition.

EduPlant is changing the country, one school at a time, and helping schools put food on the table, using cultivation methods that are in harmony with nature. Dates and venues for the workshops across South Africa can also be found on the website www.trees.co.za/programmes/eduplant.html.

EduPlant is a permaculture food gardening and greening programme initiated and run by Food & Trees for Africa, which teaches schools how to cultivate their own food in an ecologically sustainable manner. Through permaculture techniques, communities are recognising the value of recycling waste, creating their own compost and employing biological agents in place of harmful pesticides and fertilisers.

Article courtesy:  SA Good News

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