By Nicole Ras
This World Food Month, Food & Trees for Africa (FTFA), in partnership with Tiger Brands, proudly announced the champions of the EduPlant Finals Competition, an occasion that celebrates the outstanding achievements of schools in the realm of permaculture food gardening for food security and environmental education. As advocates for sustainable living and environmental stewardship, FTFA and Tiger Brands are committed to empowering youth and under-resourced schools across South Africa. The EduPlant Programme, a flagship initiative that promotes sustainability through hands-on learning, continues to flourish under their guidance.
In announcing the winners, Mary-Jane Morifi, Chief Corporate Affairs and Sustainability Officer of Tiger Brands said, “Our success as a business is inextricably linked to the prosperity of society. EduPlant is rooted in Tiger Brands’ mission to be a force for good and to be a positive contributor to society and a responsible corporate citizen.”
Over the last two years the EduPlant Programme has been fostering environmental literacy and self-sufficiency in 300 schools across the nation. Now in its 28th year, the programme has helped develop thousands of school food gardens and has supplemented the National School Nutrition Programme (NSNP). By engaging schools in permaculture food gardening, it equips students with vital life skills while promoting food security, improving nutrition and establishing ecological balance.
“The results of the EduPlant school gardens are a testament to the programme’s powerful ability to bring positive change in communities, and we are equally proud of the schools’ commitment and passion,” says Morifi.
This year's EduPlant Finals Competition brought together 36 finalist schools from all nine provinces, each with a shared passion for cultivating a greener future. Each finalist was required to submit a video documentary of their garden as well as a Portfolio of Evidence to stand a chance to win their share of R95,000 in cash prizes to support further food-growing efforts. The competition is a testament to the dedication of educators, learners, and communities in creating sustainable, thriving permaculture gardens within their school grounds.
After rigorous evaluation, the EduPlant Programme is thrilled to announce the thirteen winners of this two-year cycle:
● FIRST PLACE NATIONALLY: Mfesane Secondary School (Eastern Cape)
● SECOND PLACE NATIONALLY: Mookgopong Primary School (Limpopo)
● THIRD PLACE NATIONALLY: Mbhureni Primary School (Limpopo)
● EASTERN CAPE WINNER: Elufefeni Primary School
● LIMPOPO WINNER: Grace and Hope Special School
● KWAZULU-NATAL WINNER: Sinathing Junior Primary School
● WESTERN CAPE WINNER: Dennegeur Avenue Primary School
● GAUTENG WINNER: Masizani Primary School
● NORTH WEST WINNER: Rekgonne Bapo Special School
● NORTHERN CAPE WINNER: Ditshipeng Intermediate School
● FREE STATE WINNER: Lerato Primary School
● MPUMALANGA WINNER: Sifundzekhaya Primary School
● FAN FAVOURITE: Ledingwe Primary School (Limpopo)
Each of these schools has demonstrated exceptional dedication to the principles of permaculture and sustainability. Their permaculture food gardens serve as living classrooms, nurturing not only plants but also the minds and hearts of the learners involved.
Robyn Hills, Head of Programmes at Food & Trees for Africa commented, “School food gardens are one of the best ways to supplement meals for learners. The additional nutrition from fresh herbs and vegetables significantly improves a student's ability to concentrate and perform better.”
The EduPlant Finals Competition is not just a celebration of these schools' achievements but also a reflection of the broader impact of the EduPlant Programme. Through this initiative, FTFA’s EduPlant programme and Tiger Brands aim to:
● Enhance Food Security: By teaching sustainable agriculture practices, EduPlant empowers communities to grow their own nutritious food, promoting self-reliance and resilience.
● Promote Environmental Literacy: The EduPlant Programme instills a profound understanding of environmental issues, enabling learners to become responsible stewards of their natural surroundings.
● Strengthen Communities: Permaculture gardens create opportunities for collaboration and community engagement, fostering a sense of belonging and shared purpose.
● Inspire Lifelong Learning: EduPlant's hands-on approach to education instills a love for learning and a commitment to lifelong sustainability.
The Future: Growing Together
Through ongoing partnerships with educational institutions and the enthusiastic participation of schools and communities nationwide, FTFA and Tiger Brands are dedicated to expanding the reach of the EduPlant Programme. This programme will continue to empower future generations with the knowledge, skills, and passion needed to create a more sustainable, equitable, and resilient South Africa.