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Food gardens planted at Mtubatuba school for Mandela Day

Nontuthuko Mgabhi, an alumnus of the University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN), and members of Enactus (an initiative aimed at community upliftment through social entrepreneurship) launched food gardens at Khiphinkunzi Primary School in Mtubatuba for Mandela Day.

Mgabhi appealed to alumni to donate their time or items such as vegetable seedlings, compost, fertilisers and tools to assist in developing the garden at the school. The call was heeded by UKZN alumni and staff, who donated money. Friends of UKZN Agriculture also heeded the call, donating seeds and fertilisers.

The vertical sack farming method is a process that involves planting 25 to 30 seedlings in a bag to preserve land and water. It was demonstrated by Enactus member Andile Mkhize, while the philanthropic organisation's deputy president, Nomqhele Dube, and the rest of her team assisted groups of parents, teachers and pupils in starting their own gardens.

Mgabhi, a champion of this initiative through her Go Beyond for a Child project, hopes to provide food security for the school as well as five new classrooms and two new administration offices. Seeing 110 children crammed into one classroom is what moved her to start the project.

"So many children in this area are from child-headed households and live off farming, so this will help them a lot. I'm grateful to Enactus and UKZN because I've done a lot of gardening projects, but the innovation today really blew me away," she said.

The school's principal, Nonhlanhla Shongwe, and deputy principal Nana Sibeko expressed their gratitude for this initiative. "This will assist the school greatly as our menu is derived mainly of vegetables, which our suppliers are always short of," said Sibeko. "It will also help our community as most of them are unemployed."

Enactus students and Mgabhi, together with the parents, teachers and pupils, planted more than 30 bags of spinach, onions, beetroot and chillies. In line with empowering the community, pupils were also divided into groups and given scheduled timetables for them to help maintain the gardens, thereby teaching them to help themselves.

Mgabhi's love of long-distance running will see her take the initiative further as she plans to run in seven continents for seven days to raise funds for the new school buildings.

She also welcomes any contributions to help the school through the BackaBuddy initiative, starting from as little as R50.

To donate, please follow the link: https://www.backabuddy.co.za/khiphinkunzi-primary

Words: Hlengiwe Precious Khwela