KwaLanga growing food for change

Oct 2, 2019

 

In the way that things sometimes come full circle, Langa resident and retired chef, Mluleki Njokweni, went from making and plating food to preparing the earth that grows the ingredients for the food.

Mluleki is responsible for the food garden at Siyabulela Primary on Washington Street, having started there as a volunteer fourteen years ago.

“There was no garden when I got there, so I decided to plant one.”

- Mluleki Njokweni from Siyabulela Primary's food garden

 

On the small plot he grows broccoli, cauliflower, onion, beetroot, spring onion, kale, carrots and potato. The bulk of the vegetables are used in the school’s feeding scheme.

“It’s porridge in the morning, and then at break time they have food prepared by the kitchen. The important thing for me is looking at what the children enjoy eating and ensuring I grow that for them.”

- Mluleki Njokweni

 

Any surplus vegetables are sold to the parents or gets used by Mluleki in his own culinary creations.

Late last year Shoprite, through its implementation partner Food and Trees for Africa, started hosting regular workshops to teach the pupils of Siyabulela Primary gardening techniques.

“The children were allocated a plot near the original garden. Twenty five children and the teacher work the garden on Mondays.”

- Mluleki, who at the age of 70 hopes to pass the gardening baton to the next generation

Mluleki Njokweni showing learners from Siyabulela Primary the ropes at the food garden that supplies vegetables to their school feeding scheme.

A short 20-minute walk away another garden is also receiving support from Shoprite. At Mokone Primary they grow beetroot, cabbage, spinach, onion and cauliflower. According to school principal Dominic Raphahlelo, buying fresh vegetables was just becoming too expensive and they were compelled to buy seedlings to start growing their own vegetables.

The learners are encouraged to work in the garden. Dominic shares the school’s hope, that by helping in the garden the learners come to  understand that they too are of value to the school - that they are part of the school.

“This way - whatever happens to them academically - they’ll know that they can survive using the skills they’ve learnt while gardening.”

- Dominic Raphahlelo, principal at Mokone Primary

 

Dominic is grateful to Shoprite for the gardening tools, plant and educational material it has supplied.

Volunteer gardener Andile Mbuli of Mokone Primary School works in the school garden with some of the learners.
“They’ve built fencing to protect the crop and offered a range of workshops to the committee responsible for the garden. We are also equipped with the necessary skills to manage the project. They’re really doing a great job.”

- Dominic Raphahlelo

 


Mokono Primary School is one of the schools supported by the VUSA Academy, a rugby and academic upliftment programme based in the community of Langa. eNCA recently visited the school to learn more about the programme and the food garden.