Garden grows food, jobs

2016-11-01 06:00
pic coming Ward Councillor Eddie Andrews officially opened the organic garden on Friday 28 October. He commended Magda Campbell on her work and encouraged more pupils to get involved.

pic coming Ward Councillor Eddie Andrews officially opened the organic garden on Friday 28 October. He commended Magda Campbell on her work and encouraged more pupils to get involved.

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A new organic garden at the Beacon School for Learners with Special Educational Needs was officially launched last week.

The Westridge school launched the food garden, created by Magda Campbell, in partnership with Soil for Life, on Friday.

The Soil for Life facilitators demonstrated how to use compost, make a trench bed, fertilise soil and control pests naturally.

The event also offered the learners an opportunity to learn more about organic gardening and enjoying the garden, which will provide healthy food, training and jobs.

Campbell, who studied Agriculture, was approached by the Mitchell’s Plain Skills Centre. The intention was to grow food and, more importantly, provide gardening training to the learners and equip them for future employment.

The school agreed to lease the land and the Department of Agriculture donated a borehole and water tank. Campbell agreed to volunteer her time to train the learners.

“The learners at Beacon School enjoy eating the produce from the garden as well as their weekly lessons in food gardening. One former student has joined me and is working full-time in the garden,” says Campbell.

During her studies, Campbell had been taught conventional methods of plant production, but was concerned about the safety measures needed when using chemical fertilisers and pest control. “We had to wear protective clothing, and I felt this wasn’t right – that I needed to protect myself from something I was going to eat eventually.”

Campbell decided to explore organic methods and completed Soil for Life’s natural gardening course and a three-month home food gardening programme in Mitchell’s Plain.

“I want to show people here in Mitchell’s Plain that healthy food doesn’t have to expensive. You can grow your own organic food and change the way your family eats without lots of money. There are programmes in our community, like Soil for Life, that provide all the training you need to get started,” says Campbell.

“We’re on a mission to build healthy soil, people and communities,” says Pat Featherstone, founder of Soil for Life. “Feeding the soil is the first step in feeding ourselves.”

Campbell, a grandmother of five, says her family has benefited from the initiative even though she has been volunteering her time. “I put lots of greens in my grandchildren’s food without them knowing and they love it. My mother of 82 has even started her own veggie garden too,” she says.

The future plans for the garden include having it registering as a non-profit organisation and creating more job opportunities.

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