School gardens

Over the past few weeks I have been focusing on my project from a journalistic angle.  I have been looking at how school gardens are impacting food security in lower income areas of Cape Town.  Many schools have vegetables gardens, of which many were, at one time or another, created by the assistance of an NGO.  In these schools, vegetable gardens were designed with two goals in mind, as place for environmental education, and to assist the school feeding programs.  In most of these schools, over half of the students receive free lunches through an NGO named Peninsula School Feeding Association, who is contracted by the Dept of Education.

I have focused on the second intention of a school garden- what are their impacts on the schools’ feeding schemes.  Are the students truly receiving meals with parts made straight from the garden?   In nearly all schools, the answer is largely no, not much at all.

They require simply too much human and financial input to produce enough food to supplement the feeding scheme.    In gardens that are successfully producing vegetables, a disconnection often exists being the gardening and cooking staff, preventing them from utilizing the available vegetables as a resulting from the lack of communication or coordination.

The South African national government has published reports encouraging school gardens as a means of feeding program supplementation.  While there is no official policy requiring schools to have a garden, many schools across the country have been installing gardens.  From what I have heard, they have had variously levels of success in different regions, with greater success in rural areas.  In Cape Town they are ineffectual as food producers.

For my story, I have been interviewing NGO directors, Department of Education officials, and the PSFA staff.  Two more weeks here in Cape Town!