Teacher’s garden project empowers learners and supports broader KwaZakhele community

2017-09-27 06:01
Teacher Nomonde “Miss Greenfingers” Ntsundwana.            Photo:SUPPLIED

Teacher Nomonde “Miss Greenfingers” Ntsundwana. Photo:SUPPLIED

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KNOWN as “Miss Greenfingers”, Seyisi Primary School teacher Nomonde Ntsundwana is using an innovative way to teach learners through a flourishing food garden, which she views as a natural laboratory where learners gain practical knowledge and do research.

Ntsundwana has been a teacher for more than 20 years and started the garden project in 2005 at her former school, Canzibe Primary in Motherwell.

“I have a great love for gardening and I grew up in an era where gardening was important, so I want to teach the learners the importance of it.

“Gardening offers hands-on, experiential learning opportunities in a wide array of disciplines, including the natural and social sciences, mathematics, arts and culture and nutrition,” the KwaZakhele English and social sciences teacher explained.

The garden supplies fresh produce to the school’s daily nutrition programme and also generates income for the school through the sale of excess produce.

“The garden really teaches the children a lot – things such as germination and also to gain insight into the different plants and the seasons in which they can be planted.”

Ntsundwana, who started the garden with her bare hands, described the garden project as a way of educating the learners about entrepreneurship.

“As the school we are selling the seedlings to the learners at a minimal amount.

“So, the learners can then go and sell the seedlings to the community at a higher price.

“In this way, they can make pocket money for themselves while also proving hunger relief within the community,” she said.

In 2011, the single mother of two won the Kudu Award from the South African National Parks in the category of individual environmental education and capacity building.

A year after, “Miss Greenfingers” was selected as a finalist in the educator’s category of the Shoprite Checkers Women of the Year Award as an environmental awareness advocate and for championing the greening of schools across the Nelson Mandela Bay. “It was really humbling for me; I could not believe it. I never expected to be recognised for my gardening project,” she said.

During that same year, she was also chosen as one of six eco-pioneers profiled by Total in its quest to “recognise institutions and individuals who are committed to protecting the environment and actively working towards a greener planet”.

Shoprite has now taken hands with Ntsundwana to further grow and expand the garden in order to ensure the long-term sustainability of the project.

“Shoprite helps us with the compost; they provide us with seedlings, trees and the tools needed. We are really grateful for all that they do,” she explained.

Much like seedlings become plants and nourish the communities around them, the partnership with Shoprite has further empowered Nstundwana to expand the reach of her education and the impact of her garden.

“Our wish is for all the learners to have food gardens at their homes so as to reduce poverty.

“The garden doesn’t belong to the school, it belongs to the whole community.”

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