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  • Laila Manie

The Importance of Food Gardens in South African Schools

Thembani Primary School in Langa, Cape Town is a testament to the importance and impact of food gardens in South African schools. Through Call 2 Care’s iGardi Project, learners in schools from underserved areas partake in eco-lessons which explore the knowledge and know-how of food gardening. Sponsored by Adventure Works and B&M Analysts, there is currently a sustainable vegetable garden at Thembani Primary which was incepted in 2019. From immersive education, to feeding learners and income generation, here’s how food gardens are helping to alleviate South Africa’s problems with food security.

Cultivate, educate and nourish are 3 of the 5 key pillars of Call 2 Care’s iGardi Club which operates beneath the iGardi Project as a collective club which joins the network of food gardens across communities. To become part of the iGardi Club, learners embark on 9 eco-lessons which deliver the knowledge and skills needed on topics such as soil preservation and preparation, composting and all things seeds.

The lessons are aligned with the school curriculum, in partnership with the Department of Education and the Department of Agriculture in order to meet the need for nutrition education and food security at a grassroots level. The lessons end with learners becoming iGardiologists - who have the know-how of food gardening and will go on to use their skills for themselves and their communities. Currently, Call 2 Care has a wonderful group of grade 7 learners at Thembani Primary School progressing through their eco-lessons aligned with their Natural Science curriculum. The immersive learning that takes place through the iGardi Club, moves Call 2 Care’s initiative from an average food garden project to one of youth development, education and upliftment. But how do these food gardens help South Africa alleviate food security?

In which ways do food gardens ensure food security?

Food security is a global issue and South Africa is, unfortunately, home to much of this global crisis. The Global Index for Hunger 2020 ranks South Africa as 60 from 107 countries. However, what this statistic translates to is that roughly 30% of South Africa’s issues with food security directly impacts the development of children under 5 years old. But what is food security? As outlined in 2013, jointly by the Department of Social Development and the Department of Agriculture, Forestry & Fisheries (DAFF), South Africa’s Policy on Food and Nutrition Security is defined in the following way; access to and control over the physical, social and economic means to ensure sufficient, safe and nutritious food at all times, for all South Africans, in order to meet the dietary requirements for a healthy life.

However, access to nutritious food is South Africa’s greatest obstacle within the issue of food security. It is within this niche that Call 2 Care’s iGardi Project creates access to nutritious food. According to the 2013 policy by the Department of Social Development and DAFF, food prices is the biggest influencing factor for South Africans to access and secure food. To remedy this, the iGardi Club uses an ethos of nutrition to provide access to healthy food for underserved communities through food gardens which include an array of vegetables to complement the National School Nutrition Programme.

Community upliftment through the educational outreach iGardi Project by Call 2 Care.
The iGardi Project at Thembani

How does the government help to support food gardens and implement food security?

The National School Nutrition Programme is a national school feeding scheme which is allocated a budget to meet its goal. However, schools are encouraged to plant vegetable gardens to contribute to the feeding scheme and create greater variety within the meals served at schools. The vegetable gardens operated by Call 2 Care and their corporate sponsors aim to assist national and local government to meet the needs for food security.

Corporate sponsorship is the foundation of much of Call 2 Care’s ability to provide access to food and establish iGardi Clubs throughout communities. By simplifying the process, Call 2 Care allows for organisations to meet their CSI's by creating and managing projects that align with company values. By fostering the right kind of relationship between sponsor and beneficiary, Call 2 Care ensures that beneficiaries are not forever reliant on donors but rather, empower themselves and transform their communities.

So, the burning question is: how do I get involved? Businesses can contribute to Call 2 Care’s iGardi Project by sponsoring a garden trench/raised bed to meet company CSI’s. With every sponsored garden trench/bed, a sustainable workshop is delivered to the school. Anyone can contribute for as little as R25 monthly and you will be feeding 1 learner daily from Call 2 Care’s vegetable gardens. Monthly newsletters are sent out to update you on the progress of the projects and the lives that your donation has impacted. Monthly contributions will also provide discounts to our fun fundraisers, and all donations are tax-deductible and can receive Bona Fide Section 18a receipts. Your support secures a meal for someone in need and allows Call 2 Care to continue its mandate of improving lives through educational outreach projects and socially conscious events.


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