Sep 4, 2016
Greenlands Primary School in Bishop Lavis, outside Cape Town, has transformed a once barren piece of land at the edge of the school into a vibrant and sustainable food garden that is helping the school to supplement its current school feeding scheme as well as generating much-needed income in the process.
In a community facing serious socio-economic challenges like gangsterism, drugs and unemployment, the garden has become a symbol of hope for learners and teachers at the school, as well as the broader community.
A beneficiary of the National School Nutrition Programme, Greenlands Primary is able to feed around 300 learners a day. However, there are many more learners who come to school daily on empty stomachs that the school wanted to be able to feed.
The school approached the Shoprite Group for support to supplement the existing feeding scheme so that all learners who needed a meal could get one. Shoprite’s Mobile Soup Kitchen began serving at the school from June 2015 to address the immediate need.
Wanting to create a more sustainable solution to the lack of adequate nutrition faced by many of the learners at the school, the retailer commissioned the food garden as part of its comprehensive hunger relief programme that comprises of surplus food donations from each of its stores to the tune of more than R100-million every year, a fleet of mobile soup kitchens that address immediate needs around the country every week and sustainable community feeding schemes to reach the most vulnerable in society.
Ground was broken in June 2015 and with the participation from learners and teachers, under the guidance of South Africa’s oldest edible garden service, Urban Harvest, the Greenlands Primary Sustainable Food Garden produced its first harvest just three months later. The garden now yields between 10 and 15 kg’s of vegetables on a daily basis, which is used to supplement the schools current feeding scheme.
A number of other benefits have been realised since the garden was established. Employment has been created for Denver Wessels, an ex-gangster who spent almost 17 years in and out of prison but has now turned his life around and is committed to maintaining the garden so that the learners get their daily nutrition.
In addition, and as a direct result of the garden, the school has also established an income-generating café called the “Green Deli”. Margaret Wessels was appointed to use produce from the garden to prepare nutritious meals that are sold at very affordable prices to learners and teachers. The garden has also begun to bring the community together, with the learners recently hosting a Grand Parents Day at the Green Deli where Margaret treated them to a wholesome meal.
“At the beginning of the project, many people were doubtful of its success because of the area we are in and the issues we face,” says Mr Peter Conradie, Deputy Principal of Greenlands Primary School. “With the assistance of the Shoprite Group, we have proven to be successful and even the Provincial Department of Education has taken note of the garden’s success, wanting to use us as an example to promote vegetable gardens in schools across the country.”
The Shoprite Group is currently supporting ten other sustainable food gardens across the country, working with local organisations and implementing partners to alleviate hunger in communities.