The seeds of change

2019-04-09 06:00
Ben Getz, Urban Harvest Edible Gardens managing director, plants vegetables with children of Levana Primary School.PHOTO: Racine Edwardes

Ben Getz, Urban Harvest Edible Gardens managing director, plants vegetables with children of Levana Primary School.PHOTO: Racine Edwardes

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Levana Primary School is the pilot school for an exciting vegetable and herb garden that will soon provide for the school and the community.

The school has, for many years, worked in partnership with the Earthchild Project, a non-profit organisation (NPO) that offers complimentary educational services to underresourced schools, focusing on the environment, health and self-development.

On Friday 5 April, the school launched their first vegetable garden to create a self-sustaining ecosystem for its children and the community; a project that was achieved through collaboration with the NPO and Urban Harvest Edible Gardens.

Etienne Basson, the environmental programme coordinator and facilitator for Earthchild in Lavender Hill, shared their vision for the school.

“Earthchild’s vision is to have a yoga room (or wellness centre), a food garden and an outdoor classroom in all the eight schools that we work in across the Western Cape. This is the first Urban Harvest food garden and outdoor classroom in Lavender Hill, and the first one for Earthchild,” he said.

The school, which has been an “eco-school” for 10 years, teaches the children through a curriculum that enhances environmental awareness and, along with Earthchild, has created learners who aim to give back to those who need it.

“It’s about giving back to the community. I see it as a giving space and the idea is that we give back. The most notable thing we will give back is the food and vegetables that are produced from the garden. The garden is produced in such a way that it can accommodate about 20 kids in the garden, so Earthchild can come in and use it, and the school can use the space for lessons about the environment,” said Basson.

The produce from the garden will be used in the school’s own kitchen to feed the children.

Ben Getz, managing director of Urban Harvest Edible Gardens, was particularly proud of this garden which has allowed the company to get one step closer to 350 gardens created in the area.

Getz said: “This garden, I think is our most beautiful garden yet. It is our 348th food garden that we’ve built in Cape Town and it’s got all the fresh, organic food that children should be eating. 

“A lot of food is going to come out of this garden – possibly more than you’re going to know what to do with – and it’s going to go into the school.”

He added: “This was all possible through the funder, David Allen, who is the owner of The Real Thing supplements.”

In addition to feeding the children of the school, Getz has indicated that there will be a significant surplus of vegetables which, according to Earthchild’s schools’ programme coordinator Linci Abrahams, is said to be earmarked for distribution in the community.

The community has been considered at every point in the creation of the garden, with Urban Harvest Edible Gardens having taken on a number of employees directly from Lavender Hill, to create the garden and put skills from the community back into the community.

One of these employees will receive full-time employment as garden champion and will, along with the “Eco Warriors” of the school, plant and maintain the garden for the future.

“The Eco Warriors [a group of children from the school who work with the NPO on issues of the environment] work on different topics such as climate change, water and planting. 

“This gives them a respect for nature. They learn that if you respect everything around you, you then respect other people,” said Cassandra Wagenaar, operations manager at the Earthchild Project.

The garden will begin to produce vegetables as early as six weeks and in three months, Getz is confident that the entire garden will be in full bloom.

Learners expressed their excitement for what the garden will offer – a safe outdoor learning space and fresh produce – as they planted various vegetables with Getz and his team.

  •  For more information on the Earthchild Project, visit http://earthchildproject.org/ or call 021 788 1711 
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