iGardi Club Basics: What is the iGardi Club?
The iGardi Club and iGardi Project is Call 2 Care’s sustainable food security and urban greening initiative that aims to feed and educate learners and communities on the process of food gardening, the importance of nutrition, and all the know-how needed for successful food gardening. Centered on the ethos of improving lives through educational outreach projects, the iGardi Project is Call 2 Care's initiative which aims to establish food gardens across South African schools. The iGardi Club which operates under the broader iGardi Project seeks to create a community of schools in under-resourced communities, where all learners will benefit from the knowledge of food gardening. The iGardi Project integrates food gardening into the school curriculum which is achieved through the subject of Natural Science, and Natural Science teachers greatly assist in this effort. Learning to grow food is an essential life skill that shapes learners to be self-sustaining individuals. In under-resourced communities, food is scarce and so, being able to grow food allows learners to have access to meals they may not have had before. Ultimately, the goal of the iGardi Project is that learners and all other beneficiaries will take their good gardening knowledge home and uplift their own families and communities. The iGardi Project has five core principles; to cultivate, educate, nourish, conserve, and activate. These five principles encourage and foster the love of food gardening, self-sufficiency and the preservation of our planet.
The iGardi Club, the working wheels of the iGardi Project, consists of 9 fun and engaging eco-lessons for the 1st term. The aim of the iGardi Club is to guide the learners from the basics of vegetable gardening, which involves preparation and preservation of the soil, to the process of harvesting. Notably, these fundamental eco-lessons include teaching and engaging learners on the development of sustainable and water-wise gardening at the schools which is imperative to South Africa's commitment to be water wise and particularly, the City of Cape Town. This eco-lesson journey culminates in learning the know-how of seed drying and an exciting harvest festival. A certificate ceremony is set up for the learners as soon as they have completed their road to becoming iGardiologists which will see them join the iGardi Community. The harvests at iGardi Club schools help to feed learners who are most in need and encourage diets which are nutritious and well-balanced.
Apart from food gardening, the iGardi Club aims to inspire the spirit of conservation amongst South African youth by promoting sustainable gardening to serve the people and save the planet. The iGardi Club encourages conservation and sustainable gardening through the use of eco-friendly practices in the gardens. Call 2 Care’s commitment to the planet involves iGardi Club food gardens which do not make use of chemical fertilizers, pesticides or single use plastics. Furthermore, the iGardi Club involves planting indigenous trees to green communities by drawing on Call 2 Care's Spekboom for Climate Change project. These are some of the measures that the iGardi Project employs to ensure sustainable development and environmental preservation in the process of improving lives.
Successful Launch of The iGardi Club - Where did it start?
The iGardi Club successfully launched in the first term of the school year in February 2021, both at Thembani Primary school and Simondium Primary school in Cape Town. The project successfully completed 8 lessons of the iGardi Club curriculum. The Drakenstein Municipality and the Department of Education have given the program recognition as it fits well within the school curriculum, making the iGardi Club exceedingly appropriate for schools and learners.
Furthermore, the iGardi Club is rooted in the mitigation of food insecurity by creating a community of iGardiologists, which is the title given to learners after completing the program. As part of the iGardi Club, learners from both Thembani and Simondium Primary have graduated to become iGardiologists and, are now members of the broader iGardi Community. iGardiologists are encouraged to use the skills and techniques they receive from the iGardi Club to start their own gardens within their own communities and homes. Currently, Simondium primary school is participating in a Drakenstein Municipality competition and, with assistance from the iGardi Club, Simondium is currently in second position. Additionally, initiatives like the iGardi Project highlight the staggering inequalities that communities like Langa are faced with. According to the Centre for Sustainable, Healthy, and Learning Cities and Neighborhoods (SHLC), Cape Town is widely considered to be South Africa's most segregated city, contrary to popular beliefs about an equal and equitable post-Apartheid South Africa. Therefore, the iGardi Project aims to bridge this gap of inequality by addressing food insecurity through the implementation of the iGardi Club. The implementation of the iGardi Club food gardens at Thembani and Simondium Primary Twas made possible by the generous contribution received from PPECB, who donated towards the implementation of the water wise food gardens and the first year of the iGardi Club. PPECB is South Africa's Official Perishable Produce Export Certification Agency and thus, the iGardi Club intimately aligns with the work and ethos of a company of this nature.
The iGardi Club Syllabus
The 8 eco-lessons that took place at Thembani Primary and Simondium Primary school - in pictures
What’s Next for The iGardi Club?
Call 2 Care continuously seeks to improve the program in order to meet iGardi Club objectives. Undoubtedly, COVID-19 has had an immense impact on schools and the curriculum at large and so, has required the iGardi Club to become flexible in its mission and adapt the roll-out of food gardens to be COVID-19 compliant. The iGardi Club team has, as a result, changed a few structural set ups to improve the program. A key change is to increase the duration of the program from one term to a year which will allow the entire 7th grade of class of Thembani and Simondium to be part of the program. This adjustment allows all grade 7 learners to access the program for the entire year, following the seasons and fully immersing themselves in the environmental changes that naturally accompanies food gardening and the harvest process.
Currently, over 130 learners are participating at Thembani Primary school, showcasing aggressive growth in the program's implementation since its launch. The participants are divided into 7 small groups, participating 4 times a week for a period of 2 weeks. At Simondium, the program will start in term 3 where the participants will be divided into groups of 40 learners. Call 2 Care will then evaluate, on site, which approach is most beneficial to the learners.
Additionally, at Charleston Hill Primary, Call 2 Care is currently piloting the program involving Grade 8 learners, with a vision of proceeding with them for the next 5 years. The learners will be exposed to working in an outdoor environment from Grade 8 until they reach the iGardiologist level in Grade 12.
Call 2 Care is excited about these new, forthcoming initiatives that will enable the program to reach out to disabled learners and model it to become even more eco-friendly . Call 2 Care is currently engaging with St Joseph Hill School for the chronically ill in order to pilot a food garden. Additionally, Call 2 Care is also engaging with Waste-Ed about a potential partnership which will assist schools in managing their waste appropriately. Waste-Ed is involved in creating eco-bricks to build structures. Call 2 Care intends to partner with Waste-Ed to build eco-friendly, outdoor classrooms which aligns with Call 2 Care's commitment to remain an environmentally responsible non-profit organization.
Planting Seeds of Hope for The Future - How can you help?
Call 2 Care’s iGardi Club continues to grow and adapt to meet its aim of feeding and educating learners and communities on the process of food gardening, the importance of nutrition, and fostering a love for protecting our natural environment. Call 2 Care is determined to maintain the growth of the iGardi Club, hoping to extend to more under-resourced schools across Cape Town and ultimately, nationwide.
Call 2 Care immensely appreciates current sponsors but, is constantly welcoming new relationships with corporates and collaborations with other non-profit organizations to further initiatives much like the iGardi Project. Corporates can donate and get involved by joining in a planting/harvest session or establishing a food garden at a site in need as part of a company's corporate social initiative/responsibility (CSI/CSR). Call 2 Care requires contribution from both public and private sectors in order to continue making a sustainable impact and difference to our communities in need.