The Nqolobane Garden is a 25m x 15m plot of land that is situated next to Nqolobane High in a valley surrounded by rolling hills and sugarcane fields as far as the eye can see. It is a place where learners in our After-school Programme come to learn, have fun and get their hands dirty (quite literally).
Last year, our Agriculture Director worked with a group of twenty-eight Grade 10 students to teach them a variety of organic gardening skills such as how to prepare soil, the value of crop rotation, and how to grown their own seedlings. The time they spent in the garden learning practical skills through our After-school Programme bolstered the theory they were learning in the classroom through Nqolobane High, and their efforts in both would be graded.
To spice things up a bit, students were split into teams of four and each group was assigned one plot of land within the Nqolobane Garden. Each team grew the same crops - potatoes, beetroot, and carrots - and at the end of the school year, the group with the most successful plot of land received the highest marks for the project. Although all the teams did well, there was one clear winner...may we present to you the 2014 Nqolobane Gardening Champions!
We want to say a big thank you to all our dedicated donors who supported the matching campaign in June- we raised over $7000 in 1 hour! This is vital funding that enables us to continue teaching Agriculture programs to children in Thanda until the end of the year.
We've been busy lately setting up more gardens at the 4 different primary schools where we operate. This way, teaching is practical rather than just theoretical and everyone has a chance to put their hands into the soil to plant their own seeds. We all know that children learn best through 'doing' and it has been a lot of fun too! We built a Worm Farm from old buckets and used broken bike frames to hold up tomatoe plants. The veggies that the children grow are shared by the group, making everyone very proud of what they have achieved. In a place just a few years ago agriculture was 'for old people', children and youth are now more and more enthusiastic about what they can grow themselves to feed their families.
These photos are from a garden set up at Sosukwane Primary. Thands fixed their broken borehole, so now children play as they pump water to put on their plants. The land was on a slope and budgets were low, so Thanda brought in over 1000 old tires and children and Thanda's teachers had fun filling them with dirt and building a wall. They also have a chicken tractor from Thanda, making collecting the eggs one of their favourite activities! Thank you for your generous support to this exciting and important project.
This is the story of Bandile, who was 17 years old and doing grade 8 for the second time when Thanda’s agriculture after-school program came to his rural Sizanayo High School. Outside a humble school building set amidst rural hills dotted with huts and cows, the children learned to grow vegetables- something that had been lost during the turmoil of South Africa’s last 100 years. Bandile was the last born of 3 children and didn’t know anything about planting, but he immediately became passionate about agriculture and set up his own garden at home too. He taught his retired father and unemployed mother how to garden and they started helping each day. Bandile borrowed many books from the library set up by Thanda at his high school and he passed grade 8 with Thanda’s after-school help.
Today, Bandile is known around the community for his dedication to agriculture and his knowledge on organic permaculture. Teachers and local community members buy their vegetables from him and he’s supporting his household with this income. If you ever meet Bandile along the path, people say that he’ll turn the conversation to talk about agriculture and start teaching you how to plant.
This is just one of many examples of the changes happening in rural Umtwalume, spurred by Thanda’s agriculture initiatives. Just yesterday a new group of youth come to us, asking for advice and training in their new chicken business. It’s incredibly exciting as we start to see change happen and watch an economy take form.
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Founder and Executive Director