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From the Garden to the Classroom

From the Garden to the Classroom

Afrika Tikkun and the family of activist, Sandi Jacobson, celebrated the progress of the Garden to Kindergarten project on Thursday, 8 November 2018 by way of a harvest lunch.

They shared with the same early childhood development (ECD) learners that have used the garden as a classroom for the past two months. The programme aims to instil a passion for agriculture from an early age. Furthermore, it ensures families learn to be food secure in a changing world.

Apart from the current political debate about expropriation, we need to consider the land question in South Africa from three very important perspectives: Our communities’ need for food security, ensuring land is economically productive and climate change resilience. Furthermore, it is particularly important that we ensure this going forward for future generations. This is why Afrika Tikkun recently launched its: 

Garden to Kindergarten programme at its Centre in Orange Farm

Orange farm is a peri-urban area south of Johannesburg. The programme is in memory of human rights activist and struggle hero, Sandi Jacobson. She dedicated her life to both early childhood development and vegetable garden skills transfer. Her dreams were devastatingly cut short when she was murdered on 31 October 1997.

Now, in her honour, the Garden to Kindergarten programme will see learners from age two to six in Afrika Tikkun’s Early Childhood Development (ECD) classes at Arekopaneng Centre in Orange Farm get involved in the garden. They will learn about the importance of the environment. Also, the lifecycle of plants, how that same fresh produce is part of their daily sustenance and about healthy eating in general.

“The aim is to teach children about the principles of organic gardening and the many opportunities in agriculture”

According to Project Coordinator Tim Abaa, “Ultimately, the vision is to stir up a passion for agriculture as a career path. Most youngsters see farming as something that is menial and doesn’t pay well. However, there are many career paths in farming. Amongst other roles you can be a statistician, a dietician or a scientist.”

In addition, the programme’s objectives include teaching responsibility and patience, enhancing fine motor/coordination development, and introducing the concept of sustainability. It will also provide an opportunity for teaching across learning disciplines such as maths, science, art, physical education, social studies, and personal and social responsibility.

“As these young learners grow older they will have learnt valuable gardening and agricultural concepts. These could benefit them in future from an employment and entrepreneurial point of view. In fact, this is not a bad thing given the current levels of unemployment in the country. We look forward to growing our young people’s future – one passionate gardener at a time”, says Onyi Nwaneri, Afrika Tikkun Group Executive of Partnerships and Marketing.

The programme educates the Grade Rs, their parents and their teachers

At school, teachers are taught how to integrate organic gardening into the curriculum. However, at home, parents can cultivate gardens with their children so that as they grow up children can develop lifelong abilities in the garden. 

Tim Abaa continues, “we want the children to be warriors in the war on poverty. In addition, they should be able to look after their community, their families and themselves. With productive communities, the country’s economy will grow. This programme gives families the skills to be the authors of their own lives. This is a time when climate change and economic inequality is making innovation in the agricultural sector more important than ever before.”

For all the above reasons, the Jacobson family along with Afrika Tikkun launched the Garden to Kindergarten programme at the Arekopaneng Centre of Excellence in Orange Farm on 31 August 2018. After a few short weeks, the children are starting to see the growth of their garden. At the harvest launch on 8 November 2018 guests were treated to a tour of the garden. Furthermore, they had a lunch made from the garden’s first batch of produce.

Watch a video on the Garden to Kindergarten campaign on YouTube (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W9yl19A-Esk)

We managed to raise R350,000 to fuel the first year of the programme. We run this from Orange Farm only. The current campaign aims to raise funds to continue the programme indefinitely. Also, it aims to roll it out at Afrika Tikkun’s other four Centres of Excellence in Joburg and Cape Town in future.

The official launch of the programme was at the Arekopaneng Orange Farm Centre on Thursday, 8 November 2018. There was a harvest lunch and tour of the garden with ECD learners and the Jacobson family.

For more information on Afrika Tikkun and their initiatives call 011 325 5914, email info@afrikatikkun.org or visit www.afrikatikkun.org.

For more information on the Garden to Kindergarten campaign specifically visit www.afrikatikkun.org/garden-to-kindergarten.

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