Many schools have chosen to focus on creating food gardens as part of their commitment to the Eco-Schools process whilst others have planted wildlife-friendly indigenous gardens, hedges, traditional medicinal plants and colourful borders in the school grounds.
MMAEP field workers encourage the use of Permaculture principles in the cultivation of food gardens. A Permaculture garden provides a means for learners to see ecology in action and encourages them to develop a more holistic view of and respect for nature. Through working in the gardens a better understanding is fostered of topics such as food and health, energy recycling, natural relationships, team work and planning, habitats, ecosystems, environmental ethics, natural elements and resource usage.
As a secondary benefit, some schools are able to feed learners wholesome, organically grown, nutritious food for lunch. The MMAEP would like to improve the sustainability and yield of the gardens, encourage the planting of traditional food crops, promote the innovative use of available resources, and reduce reliance on outside assistance. Experience gained in school gardens will encourage learners to start their own gardens at home.
Sifisesihle Primary school in Mpophomeni has a flourishing vegetable garden with over 23 different types of herbs as well as indigenous shrubs, windbreak species and fruit trees established. In partnership with SEED the MMAEP has supported this great garden development and the children, teachers and fieldworkers all enjoy escaping to use the outdoor classroom under a big tree on humid days when classrooms become hot and stuffy. Different grades take responsibility for different areas of the garden and the children are always keen to show visitors and parents how much they know about herbs and muti plants as well as growing vegetables.