A wise horticulturalist once said: “A garden is a grand teacher. It teaches patience and careful watchfulness; it teaches industry and thrift; above all, it teaches entire trust.”
The children at Licebo Early Childhood Development (ECD) centre in Umlazi township in Durban now have the opportunity to learn from a brand-new grand teacher at their school – a greenhouse where 160 seedlings are growing young green fingers as much as they are tomatoes!
The Ranyaka team, working alongside local gardening gurus installed the 5 x 10m greenhouse and irrigation system at the ECD centre in Umlazi’s M-section in March 2022 as part of the rapidly expanding food network programme currently being rolled out in the township under the banner of the Nedbank Proud of my Town (PoMT) initiative.
A group of young learners participated in the official hand-over of the garden, where they had the opportunity to get their hands dirty. Under the guidance of local PoMT coordinator, Andile Mafa and PoMT gardens advisor, Guy Campbell, they planted their own seedlings and learned more about the irrigation system that will ensure that the amount of water delivered to each grow bag is just right!
The guests of honour included the ECD centre’s formidable principal, Mama Busi Bhengu and a group of parents, some of whom are neighbours keen to expand the garden into their adjoining properties in future. The PoMT team is also very grateful to Samkelo Minenhle – a keen gardener who has been working with the team, assisting with construction and planting, since the first Umlazi Food Network greenhouse was installed in 2021. Nina Wellsted represented Nedbank in her capacity as Nedbank PoMT champion and Head of Socio-Economic Development (Retail).
Looking to the future, there is already someone on site who will tend to the watering of the seedlings and a schedule has been drawn up for fertilisation. The PoMT gardens team and principal will be involving parents in the maintenance of the garden and when harvest time arrives, the produce will not only supplement the fresh vegetables incorporated into meals prepared by the ECD centre – it will also be supplied to local restaurants and shisanyamas, together with the yield from the other greenhouses and gardens that already comprise the Umlazi Food Network.
For the little ones at Licebo, the joy of witnessing (and learning about) their own food grow is a bountiful harvest in itself – and one that cannot be measured in ‘bakkie’ loads, rands or cents.
Images: Geoff Redman