Thousands of educators are attending workshops across the country, learning how to develop healthy and sustainable school environments that are conducive to learning.
Food & Trees for Africa’s 20 year old EduPlant programme, now run in partnership with Engen and The Woolworths Trust, launches with this series of free, empowering workshops that help educators to pass the knowledge on to learners and their parents. All interested educators are encouraged to attend and benefit from this leading schools’ food gardening and greening programme that promotes and supports schools in the growing of good food using resource-efficient permaculture techniques.
“Permaculture is a valuable system of eco-friendly gardening and farming that copies the healthy patterns of Nature’s own ecosystems. The workshop teaches water harvesting, soil improvement, natural resource mapping, recycling design as well as how to involve learners in the school’s living, learning laboratory, the garden,” says Joyce Mabaso, headmistress at award winning Magudu Primary School in Mpumalanga.
“Teaching the future caretakers of the planet, our youth, to grow food naturally has never been more important. As the threats of global climate change increasingly affect the growing of food, learning how to produce healthy meals is a skill we could all benefit from. And where better to start than at school?” Zinzi Mgolodela, head of transformation at Woolworths asks.
Many of the educators who participate in the programme become ‘champions’ of food security in their communities by teaching other schools and community groups how to grow their own permaculture gardens. The schools themselves become hubs of environmental awareness, healthy living and nutritional knowledge. They play an important role in promoting self-reliance and home-grown sustainable development, thereby increasing their community’s confidence and capacity to drive their own development.
“Current figures show that most school-going children experience hunger. And at the entry level, the EduPlant workshops help schools to improve the nutrition of those learners as well as enhance and protect the school’s physical environment,” says Engen’s Corporate Social Investment Manager Khanyisa Balfour.
During the year, EduPlant supports motivated teachers in their efforts to design and create improved and enduring, food-rich school environments. They then enter their school gardens into the biennial EduPlant competition to participate in the exciting finals event and win prizes.
The one day workshops are coming to an end but the cluster workshops will continue for the remainder of the year. These provide schools with information on how to start and improve their gardens, as well as gives them resources, such as the FTFA Growing Green book. Educators have an opportunity to learn from each other and this encourages more food gardening activity and thus healthier learners and environments.