Johannesburg. 1 November 2023. Mfesane Senior Secondary School based Motherwell in the Eastern Cape province is the overall national winner of the Tiger Brands and Food & Trees For Africa (FTFA) EduPlant school gardening competition. The school was one of 32 schools from across the country shortlisted from a total of 300 onboarded as EduPlant participants.
Mookgopong Primary School and Mbhureni Primary School, both situated in Limpopo province, placed second and third respectively.
Mfesane Senior Secondary School stands out as the overall national winner of the EduPlant school gardening competition for their exceptional use of spiral beds that incorporate a variety of herbs, leafy greens, and pollinator-attracting flowers. The use of good composting, mulching and worm leachate has increased the school’s crop variety and yields. The learners have proudly taken part in the design and implementation of their garden since its inception and continue to nurture it through the establishment of an extracurricular gardening club.
Image: Learners at Mfesane Senior Secondary School, national winners of the EduPlant school gardening programme, were praised for their use of innovative spiral bed designs that incorporate a variety of herbs, leafy greens, and pollinator-attracting flowers.
Nine provincial school winners were also announced (see full list of finalists per province below):
Eastern Cape – Elufefeni Primary School
Limpopo – Grace and Hope Special School
KwaZulu-Natal – Sinathing Junior Primary School
Western Cape – Dennegeur Avenue Primary School
Gauteng – Masizani Primary School
North West – Rekgonne Bapo Special School
Northern Cape – Ditshipeng Intermediate School
Free State – Lerato Primary School
Mpumalanga – Sifundzekhaya Primary School
The Fan Favourite award went to Ledingwe Primary School in Limpopo.
EduPlant is South Africa’s national school nutrition and food security programme. Initiated in 1994 and implemented by Food & Trees for Africa (FTFA) the EduPlant has been supported by Tiger Brands since 2019.
The 300 schools initially onboarded as EduPlant food garden schools in 2022 and received extensive training in permaculture practices to assist them grow their own vegetables, fruit, and herbs. Produce from the gardens is harvested and served as part of the schools’ learner feeding programme. Any surplus crops are shared by the school with surrounding communities, as well as sold by some of the schools as income generation.
Now in its 28th year, the EduPlant programme has helped develop thousands of school food gardens and has supplemented the National School Nutrition Programme (NSNP). By engaging schools in permaculture food gardening, EduPlant equips students and teachers with vital life skills while promoting food security, improving nutrition and establishing ecological balance.
Robyn Hills, Head of Programmes at Food & Trees for Africa says each of the winning schools has demonstrated exceptional dedication to the principles of permaculture and sustainability. Their permaculture food gardens serve as living classrooms, nurturing not only plants but also the minds and hearts of the learners involved.
“School food gardens are one of the best ways to supplement meals for learners. The additional nutrition from fresh herbs and vegetables significantly improves a student’s ability to concentrate and perform better,” says Hills.
The 32 shortlisted school gardens in the national competition were singled out for how best they implemented their newfound knowledge to grow a successful garden. This includes how well they implemented permaculture techniques such as mulching, compost heaps, intercropping, companion planting and water management; the innovative design of their gardens; whether their learnings where integrated into the school curriculum; their problem-solving skills, including the effective use of space; and how well they made use of crops.
“EduPlant is rooted in the Tiger Brands mission to be a force for good and to be a positive contributor to South African society. The results of the EduPlant school gardens are testament to the programmes’ powerful ability to sustainably improve food security in our country’s most vulnerable communities.
“We are blown away by the commitment and passion of all the participating schools and we believe that they will all continue on this journey growing thriving gardens season after season,” says Mary-Jane Morifi, Chief Corporate Affairs and Sustainability Officer, Tiger Brands.
EduPlant aims to:
Enhance Food Security by teaching sustainable agriculture practices. EduPlant empowers communities to grow their own nutritious food, promoting self-reliance and resilience
Promote Environmental Literacy. The EduPlant Programme instils a profound understanding of environmental issues, enabling learners to become responsible stewards of their natural surroundings
Strengthen Communities. Permaculture gardens create opportunities for collaboration and community engagement, fostering a sense of belonging and shared purpose
Inspire Lifelong Learning. EduPlant's hands-on approach to education instils a love for learning and a commitment to lifelong sustainability
About Food & Trees for Africa (FTFA)
FTFA is a Non-Profit Social Enterprise working towards a healthier, food secure future through developing programmes and initiatives that address climate change and greening, promote natural resource management, organic farming and food security, and sustainable enterprise development. Through FTFA, over 4.7 million trees have been planted, thousands of schools and community gardens have been developed and hundreds of market gardens and farms are supported. FTFA has been in South African Social Development for more than 32 years and is a pioneer within climate change response and food security
Full List of National Finalist EduPlant Schools:
1. Elufefeni Primary School – Provincial Winer
2. Mfesane Senior Secondary School – Overall Winner
3. Sidakeni Primary School
4. St Colmcille Secondary School
1. Lerato Primary School – Provincial Winner
2. Ntediseng Secondary School
3. Phomolong Primary School
4. Thari ya tshepe Primary School
1. Boitumelong Secondary School, Tembisa
2. Gahlanso Primary School
3. Masizani Primary School – Provincial Winner
4. MC Weiler School
5. Peter Zongwane Primary School
1. Caradale Primary School
2. Dennegeur Avenue Primary School – Provincial Winner
3. Montagu Drive Primary School
4. Springdale Primary School
1. Amanzimtoti Primary School
2. Sinathing Junior Primary School – Provincial Winner
3. Thornville Primary School
1. Grace and Hope Special School – Provincial Winner
2. Ledingwe Primary School – Fan Favourite
3. Mookkgopong Primary School – 2nd Place Overall National Winner
4. Mbhureni Primary School – 3rd Place Overall National Winner
5. Namatsabo Primary School
1. Enkhokhokweni Primary School
2. Sifundzekhaya Primary School – Provincial Winner
3. Umpopoli Primary School
1. Ditshipeng Intermediate – Provincial Winner
2. Gaaesi Primary School
3. Good Hope Primary School
4. Maruping Primary School
1. Poelano Secondary School
2. Rekgonne Bapo Special School – Provincial Winner
3. Toevlug Primary School
4. Welgevonden Primary School