Witsies plant a food garden to fight against studet hunger


Wits volunteers are planting a vegetable garden on West Campus this Saturday September 19, to fight back against hunger in the Wits community.


In collaboration with various student volunteers, and various community outreach groups, Wits Citizen and Community Outreach (WCCO) will be planting a vegetable garden on September 19.


Kauna Singh of WCCO says, “Many other universities worldwide are undertaking the planting of fruit trees and emphasizing the associated benefits that they have received.”


Hunger is a reality for many students and the Wits food bank has been battling to keep up with demand for free food items. As previously reported by Wits Vuvuzela, the WCCO food supplies have been running low since the beginning of this year.


On average, 176 food packs have been handed out to an average of 128 students monthly since June this year.


“If we are able to cultivate vegetables from the Wits food garden, students who receive food packs could get fresh vegetables to supplement the non-perishable food that they receive from the Food Bank,” Singh says.


“We are going to plant four plant beds to start off with,” says Ashleigh Machete, founder of JoziFoodFarmer.


The JoziFoodFarmer and Thlago Agricultural Cooperative will be training Wits volunteers the basics of urban farming. These techniques will help them develop a productive food garden that is going to supply fresh produce to the Wits Food Bank.


Volunteers will learn how to sustainably plant vegetables in urban environments. The project has been supported through seedling donations made by students and staff.


“We students are going to maintain it,” says Felix Kwabena of Generation Earth, one of the organisations involved in the garden.


Salad greens, carrots, tomatoes, radishes, onions, potatoes and an assortment of herbs will be planted. Some of which have been germinating for the past three weeks in plastic containers at the WCCO offices.


Machete reckons that, “In about two months we should be having regular harvesting especially with the salad greens”.


The site, which is next to the Wits Nursery on West Campus, already has a watering system with a water hose.


Machete says, “We want to reconnect people with locally grown food and improve public health.”


Students in the Food Sovereignty and Climate Justice Forum are also proposing that fruit trees should be planted on campus. The Forum are in the process of asking the university to look at current policy on plant types on the campus.


Volunteer and member of the Cooperative and Policy Alternative Centre (COPAC) Athish Satgoor says, “The garden is part of a wider effort to create a food commons with multiple gardens eventually and lots of fruit trees on campus.”

Witsies go green with Mondeor primary school learners

GENERATION EARTH: Felix Donkor shows the Mondeor Primary the ropes on sustainable gardening

GENERATION EARTH: Felix Donkor (Phd APES) shows the Mondeor Primary the ropes on sustainable gardening. Photo: Michelle Gumede

Large tyres filled with leaves, torn newspaper and vermicast soil  are some of the ways Wits society Generation Earth is helping to spread the word on environmentally friendly living.

Generation Earth visited Mondeor primary school last Thursday to teach primary school learners how to start sustainable vegetable gardens.

“We have to share our knowledge on sustainable gardening with the school kids because they are the future of this country,” said Felix Donkor, an Animal Plant and Environmental Sciences (APES) PhD student and executive committee member of Generation Earth.

Founder of Generation Earth and teacher at Mondeor primary school, Ella Bella Elaine Constantinides, said the school had previously attempted to plant a vegetable garden but it was unsuccessful and fell apart with most of the vegetation dying.

“Now Wits Generation Earth is teaching us how to sustainably plant, grow and take of our garden,” said Constantinides.

Eleven-year-old Madison Bailey told Wits Vuvuzela that she and her sister chose to join Generation Earth because “we love the plants and flowers.”

A third-year Fine Art student and Miss Earth semi finalist, Jessica Janse Van Rensburg, attended the historic event as she has a fierce passion for the environment.

“Joburg is a beautiful city and we need to teach the young guys how to take care of it for their sake as well,” said Janse Van Rensburg. She told Wits Vuvuzela that she feels young people need someone to look up to, someone to act and inspire them to do the right thing.

Glenanda primary school head prefects were also there in solidarity with the greening initiative. Deputy head girl, Keisha Ras, said that she feels it is important to have more trees and go green. “It’s an honor for us to do this especially with a Miss Earth finalist,” she said.

Local community builder and leader, Robert Winter, said “these kids absorb information and they go on to do it themselves at home, sustainable living becomes a part of who they are.”

Winter is more than happy to teach the children about gardening, soil types, plant uses and everything to do with green living.  With over 100 plant cuttings in his garden and two water tanks, he has much experience on environmental sustainability.