West End grows food

West End Primary School pupils, teachers and Cape Nature representatives plant an indigenous tree.

A Lentegeur primary school will soon reap the rewards of growing their own food garden.

West End Primary school pupils, teachers and safe schools’ fieldworker Elske Smith have been hard at work planting various vegetables, flowers and indigenous trees.

A few weeks ago they prepared a plot of 500 square metres with several soil beds and planted a variety of vegetables and flowers.

Ms Smith said the garden kept pupils off the streets and taught them a skill.

“Gardening is a strength for pupils who may struggle academically because they feel free and safe in it and may have the natural ability to grow plants,” she said.

The garden forms part of an after-school programme, including 20 pupils at least once a week working the soil.

On Thursday September 9, in honour of spring and Arbor Week, Cape Nature representatives visited the school and gave them five indigenous trees.

Teacher Lee Arendse said the recent snow-capped mountains close to Cape Town were indicative of climate change, which was affecting food production.

“It is too cold and the food grows slowly or not at all,” he said.

Mr Arendse said he took a leaf from Grade 6 pupil Gabriella Hansen’s book, who two years ago grew an avocado plant from seed.

It is now growing on the side of the school building.

“The vision is that we get our Grade R pupils to each nurture a seed into a tree as they move from grade to grade,” he said.

Gabriella Hansen grew this avocado plant from seed.

Gabriella said when in Grade 4 during a natural science class she learned that you could plant pips.

She went home and told her dad she learned that people plant small seeds but she wanted to plant a bigger seed.

“A few days later I ate an avocado pear and we dried it, peeled it, stuck toothpicks through and gave it a bit of water,” she said.

Teacher Yusuf Fanie, who has a degree in agriculture, said the pupils could learn so much more than just farming.

“This is a stepping stone for entrepreneurship, mentorship. When the older pupils teach and assist the younger pupils, we could sell the produce and market it. The garden would have to be sustainable and we can see the pupils flourish outside of the classroom,” he said.

The school hopes to grow vegetables which could be used in its feeding scheme kitchen.

Mr Arendse also said that they wanted to grow nutritious food which would help keep their pupils healthy.