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Notties school grows through national gardening programme

Shea O’Connor Combined School recognised again

Shea O'Connor Combined School pupil Mthethwa Lwandle harvests vegetables from the school's recently built tunnel. Picture: Supplied

In a year where food security was brought sharply into focus by the Covid-19 pandemic and lockdown, this is an excellent time to celebrate food heroes.

This year, EduPlant went online to gather 42 finalist schools in its biennial national
food gardening competition. Shea O’Connor Combined School in Nottingham Road was awarded first prize in the Experienced Category of EduPlant School Gardening and Nutrition Programme 2020 competition. With a track record of a deep commitment to doing its bit to address the climate crisis, this Midlands school has mastered permaculture food-growing, and even supplies produce to local business and customers.

As a testimony to their resilience, when the country’s food systems have been sorely tested, 19 SA schools have been announced as winners in the EduPlant School Gardening and Nutrition Programme 2020 competition. The programme involves pupils, teachers and their wider community in establishing permaculture food gardens and developing food security clusters in under-resourced townships and rural communities. Co-ordinated by Food & Trees for Africa (FTFA), EduPlant 2020 is supported by long-term partner, Woolworths and new sponsor, Tiger Brands.

Picture: Noble Brahma on Unsplash

Robyn Hills, FTFA programme manager says, “EduPlant has run since 1994 and we have supported, trained and resourced thousands of schools with educational materials, seeds, tools, plants, fruit trees and on-site workshops. The school gardens are amazing places for learning, growing food and bringing the community together.

“We congratulate the 2020 EduPlant winners, and acknowledge all the finalists and entrants. They have served as critical food hubs during Covid-19. They are true food heroes.”

More Meander Chronicle schools news here

To keep the programme and competition year on track during the pandemic, a microsite was developed for the food-gardening schools that entered by uploading videos showcasing their school’s capacity for growing food in their communities.

Fan Favourite

Two new awards were added; the Fan Favourite prize voted by viewers of the entrants’ videos, and Most Improved, which recognises gains made by a school over the two-year period.

Prizes worth R300 000 have been awarded to the winners, with all 42 finalist schools also receiving a cash prize to support their food-growing efforts.

FTFA qualified as an essential service during hard lockdown, and distributed 126 000 additional seedlings to help schools’ food gardens meet the greater demand for food in their communities.

To view the 42 finalists’ video entries go to


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