Communities urged to start own gardens

Teachers and pupils from Lathi-Tha School of Skills are happy to have their own school garden. The garden launched on Friday September 2 and has a variety of vegetables already.

Lathi-Tha School of Skills in Khayelitsha has become the latest school to launch a school vegetable garden, which staff believe will nourish the pupils not only physically, but mentally as well, while feeding them with knowledge about the soil and how things grow.

At the launch of the garden on Friday September 2, agriculture teacher Siyabulela Nxokwana said the garden initiative was made possible by a number of people and organisations, including the Root to Grow School Veggie Gardens, Spar supermarket and the school itself.

Mr Nxokwana said the garden was introduced not just to teach the children the benefits of gardening and agricultural concepts, but also to integrate subjects learnt in school.

“This is of great benefit to our children. As an agriculture teacher it is also advantageous to me. Pupils will learn what they see in front of them. But again pupils will learn ways of sustaining themselves through agriculture. It will also help them to know that there are agricultural opportunities out there,” he said.

Pupils were urged to maintain the garden in which a number of different vegetables had been planted.

”We have a nutritional feeding scheme at the school which this will contribute to. We have planted beetroot, cabbages, onions, spinach, beans and many other veggies. We obviously rotate with the season and have maize too,” he said.

He stressed that the school would be committed to providing healthy meals for their pupils and possibly the community too.

Founder of Root to Grow, Pieter Strauss, said not only will they be able to grow healthy vegetables for school meals, but the garden will help to change pupils’ thinking about the work opportunities farming can create.

Mr Strauss said in a country where there is job scarcity, agriculture was the way to go and that young people should be shown how farming can create jobs.

And, he said, while some land may be occupied by people who need a place to live, or earmarked for development, children also have the option of planting food gardens at home.

“There is nothing better than school garden. This whole concept and programme is Root to Grow. I started this four years ago and thus far I have done 12 school gardens, five in Philippi, Gugulethu and Khayelitsha. We don’t only teach them (children) to garden but maths as well. We integrate a lot of subjects in it,” he said.

He urged people to not rely on government to give them jobs but to create their own by planting gardens.

“We teach them to be self-sufficient. Not all of us can go to university. It is the same, the government cannot provide jobs for every one of us,” he said.

He said he would be happy even if only child from the school went into farming and become self-employed, adding that the coming generations wouldbe job creators if taught well in agriculture.