After the successful implementation of two food gardens in conjunction with Primedia Outdoor and NGO Food & Trees for Africa, Siyamnaka Youth Centre in Pinetown, KwaZulu-Natal and Balebogeng Higher Primary School in Mamelodi were able to reap the rewards of their hard work.
The food gardens were established in March and June 2017 respectively, and are part of an ongoing drive by Primedia Outdoor to promote food security and skills transfer. To this end, Primedia Outdoor has partnered with Food & Trees for Africa since 2011 and has actively been involved in establishing six other vegetable gardens at schools and youth centres in various parts of South Africa.
Siyamnaka Youth Centre’s garden is flourishing under the committed care of 16 community members, who on Tuesday 7 November 2017 harvested their summer crop, which will feed their families as well as support the centre’s crèche.
Meanwhile, Balebogeng Higher Primary School also celebrated their yearend harvest on Friday 3 November 2017. The MMC for Community and Social services, Ntsiki Mokhoto, was a special guest at the joyful event and helped the garden’s guardians ̶ Grade 7 learners, educators and groundsman ̶ to harvest their crop. The vegetables supplement the school’s feeding scheme and also provide much needed meals for some of the learners at home.
MMC Mokhoto, a former teacher, expressed pride at the learners’ and staffs’ hard work and dedication in the garden and in the classroom.
“Education is important and it is everyone’s responsibility to make sure our children are given all they need to make learning conducive,” she said. “Partnerships with companies such as Primedia Outdoor and Food & Trees for Africa are crucial. We want more learners and teachers to join such gardening initiatives as they are empowering. The garden also keeps kids busy after school; consequently they won’t have time to get into dangerous activities like drug and alcohol abuse.”
Balebogeng’s headmistress Grace Mkhize and Siyamnaka Youth Centre Project Leader Thabisile Dube were both delighted and grateful for the support they are receiving from Primedia Outdoor. They echoed similar sentiments about the importance of good nutrition provided by the gardens as well as gratitude for the training from Food & Trees for Africa, which is equipping them with skills to alleviate hunger in their communities.
Balebogeng Higher Primary and Siyamnaka Youth Centre receive biweekly training on permaculture and support from Food & Trees for Africa to maintain the gardens as long-term sources of nutrition. Primedia Outdoor staff visit regularly visits to make sure that everything is in order and to lend a hand.
Speaking at Balebogeng’s harvest, Kennedy Tshabalala, Executive: Rights & Development at Primedia Outdoor said, “Education is key. We previously donated school uniforms, stationery and computers to schools, but realised that for the children to excel, they have to be fed. No one can learn effectively on an empty stomach. We are happy that both Balebogeng and Siyamnaka continue to dedicate their time and energy to keep the gardens flourishing. This success proves that we are all working together effectively for the benefit of the children and the community.”