From a classroom to a plate of food

School food gardens are not a new concept, and while they can bring many benefits, they can also present a number of challenges. In the eyes of a group of researchers working with TESF, school food gardens have yet to reach their full potential in their schooling landscape.

As the sound of cattle bells ring across the hills of rural Limpopo, in Northern South Africa, one small rural high school seems to agree. At Dipone High School, staff, students, community members and local business owners are teaming up to bring new life into their school curriculum. Together, they are thinking about new ways of teaching life skills and sustainable livelihoods using a small school garden as an important teaching aid.

For grade 12 learners doing agricultural sciences, the garden has become a space that brings some of the elements of their curriculum to life. As Madam Maake, the school’s agricultural sciences teacher explains, “we started the garden to help our learners to have a love for the food garden, a passion for farming and the know how to plant different crops”. Madam Maake now has a practical demonstration space at her fingertips helping her to demonstrate everything from irrigation to soil science.

While the focus is currently on agricultural content, Dipone school principal, Mr Mathole looks forward to the day when “all subjects we are teaching at this school, are going to be involved in the garden”.

However, it’s not all been smooth sailing. Gardens require daily attention and high-school students are not always the most reliable caretakers! To ensure the plants are well cared for, the Dipone School garden partners with local members of the community who use the garden to supplement their household food baskets. In this way the garden supports local community members who work alongside the school to ensure the garden is cared for.

This post was written by Luke Meterlerkamp, Digital Weavers