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Former Wits SRC President Mcebo Dlamini. Picture Credit: Gallo Images
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By Namhla Tshisela | Oct 16, 2009 | COMMENTS [ 0 ]

WITH great dexterity, Tshepiso Lekopotsa collects ladybugs from stalks of spinach and puts them in a bottle filled with water.

WITH great dexterity, Tshepiso Lekopotsa collects ladybugs from stalks of spinach and puts them in a bottle filled with water.

Left in the water for at least three days the black-speckled insects will leave an odour that keeps harmful pests at bay when used for irrigation.

A Grade 5 pupil at Paul Mosaka Primary School in Pimville, Soweto, 11-year-old Tshepiso has tended his small patch of vegetables for the past six months.

He spends time after school weeding and watering his neat rows of spinach, spring onions, beetroot and lettuce.

"We don't have a garden at home so I enjoy working my piece of garden at school. The vegetables from the garden help to feed children who come to school hungry," Tshepiso said.

He knows he has to plant chillies and garlic in between rows of spinach and other vegetables to keep pests away without the use of harmful chemicals, knowledge he proudly shares with his schoolmates.

Tshepiso is one of a group of 20 children who work on their individual patches at the school.

The school's verdant food garden, which was started in 2006, complements its feeding scheme by providing a constant supply of fresh vegetables and herbs.

Principal Gracia Lebepe says 323 of the school's 650 pupils rely on the feeding scheme for food, which usually consists of mealie pap and soya mince.

Through a partnership with Danone Clover Kids and the Food Gardens Foundation (FGF) started in April, the initiative has introduced sustainable and an environmentally friendly means of growing food to poor communities.

FGF trains parents, teachers and children in communities to create and maintain their own food gardens. Through sponsors such as Danone Clover Kids, the organisation supplies seeds, seedlings and tools to help communities start their own food gardens.

The organisation encourages its charges to recycle used material such as old tyres where space is limited and household waste such as cut grass, stones and vegetable peels to preserve water and nourish their gardens.

The campaign has created food gardens in 40 schools since April.

Marketing director of Danone Clover Stéphane Jacqmin said this was crucial in areas where communities struggled to keep food on the table.

An estimated one billion people in the world suffer from malnutrition because of food scarcity and hunger, while an estimated one out of five children in South Africa go to bed hungry every night.


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