School competition receives great quality entries

The national EduPlant greening and food gardening programme competition has received 440 entries from schools across the country this year.

In 2010 there were 580 and EduPlant programme Manager, Joanne Carty explains:

“Although this is less in terms of numbers, the quality and standard of the food gardening entries are higher than ever before. The cluster workshops initiated last year have had a very positive impact on the schools that have upped their game. Of course the postal service strike also affected the number of entries we received resulting in entries either not reaching us at all or reaching us very late.”

EduPlant and its funding partners decided to forgo the 2011 competition and instead instituted a series of intensive cluster workshops where FTFA gave schools more on site permaculture food gardening training. This year’s entries come primarily from the schools who chose to participate in the cluster workshops over the past two years.

“As funding partners to the programme we (Absa, Engen and the Woolworths Trust) wanted our involvement to add significantly to the quality and the effectiveness of the programme. We feel that the introduction of the cluster workshops last year will only contribute to the remarkable work done through the EduPlant programme for the past 19 years,” says Mihloti Mathye, ABSA CSI General Manager.

EduPlant teaches educators, learners and communities how to sustainably grow their own food naturally. FTFA initiated the programme in 2004 and coordinates it to encourage, recognise and reward schools that promote food security, improved nutrition and health at school and in their surrounding communities.

Out of the 440 entries, 60 schools will be chosen to participate in the finals from 1 to 4 October 2012. Almost 25% of the entries come from the Limpopo province, traditionally a strong region for this competition. The Western Cape entries have increased threefold from a mere six entries in 2010 to eighteen in 2012. Other highlights include more than 60 entries from the North West province and more than 50 from Gauteng, another area of remarkable improvement.

The EduPlant team of permaculture experts are now working through the entries to shortlist 200 of the 440 schools. The shortlisted schools will be visited by the team during July and August when schools will be assessed and the 60 finalists selected. The 60 finalists will be announced on 1 September 2012.

Each finalist school will receive R1 500 and will be invited to four days of workshops, seminars and entertainment culminating in the awards dinner on 4 October in Johannesburg, where the winners will be announced.

There are 21 categories and cash prizes up for grabs ranging from R5 000 to R25 000, as well as educational and gardening resources for all the finalist schools and even for all entrants. Schools also stand a chance to win a two week permaculture design course for their project leaders.

The EduPlant programme is jointly funded by Absa, Engen and Woolworths Trust as part of their corporate social investment programmes in an effort to address food insecurity within South Africa. For more information on the competition, please contact Joanne Carty, EduPlant Programme Manager on 011 656 9802 or email joanne@trees.org.za