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COMMUNITY FOOD GARDENS FLOURISH
Oppie Koppie Crèche in Prince Alfred Hamlet is one of eleven community food garden programme beneficiaries, which kicked off six months ago. The Crèche has successfully incorporated the food garden programme into their curriculum, allowing the young children in the community to learn and reap enjoyment from their own food garden.
The children were involved with the planting and watering of the gardens, and are given responsibilities to assist with the cleaning and caregiving of the patch. Through this process the children learned how to take care of themselves and the importance of water as a resource for plants, animals and humans. Their curriculum has also expanded to incorporate learning about healthy lifestyles and nutrition.
Having recently harvested their own vegetables, these children are experiencing, first hand, the joy and fulfilment of sustainable gardening.
The broader communities benefit directly from this project too, as the harvested produce such as spinach, beetroot, broccoli, pumpkins, cabbage, green peas, squashes, butternut and tomatoes are being used for existing community soup kitchens and the crèche’s daily meals. Surplus produce is earmarked to be sold in the community.
Seedlings, seeds and equipment are being provided, in addition to funding for two ‘Food Garden Co-ordinators’, to support and help sustain these eleven gardens.
Ms Welmina Baird, Principal at Oppie Koppie Creche explained, “The secret to any success story is the passion for what you do, and the participation and support received from our team. Furthermore, these children have learned how unproductive dry land can actually deliver a harvest through dedication, love and teamwork.”
Through engagements with Western Cape Education Department, Cape Winelands District Office ascertained the gap in the curriculum on Agriculture Technology in the Witzenberg, which can be addressed in partnership in the long term through the cultivation of love for agriculture from a young age.
This is a Public-Private-Partnership with Perdekraal East Wind Farm funding the eleven sustainable food gardens, and the Department of Agriculture’s supporting the programme through providing induction and orientation process at the inception of the programme.
The Food Garden Programme also assisted with the placement of 50 agricultural students from the Western Cape Community and Training College in Elsies River, Cape Town. The students have been able to gain practical exposure and the food gardens have received invaluable knowledge and assistance.
The food gardens are being established in partner communities in the Witzenberg Municipality, and gardens at a school, a crèche, homes, a church ground and small holding.
“One of the driving elements of the project is the help and support that the experienced co-ordinators, who are qualified in the field of agriculture, being provided to the food garden during the weekly visits that are scheduled to take place throughout the three month period,” said Jo-Anne Brown, Economic Development Manager at Perdekraal East Wind Farm.
Another key success-driver is the provision of water tanks by the Provincial Department of Agriculture: Farmer Support unit, which is being given to food garden owners.