Hout Bay High aces garden competition

The award-winning Hout Bay High School team are, from left, Shakur Smidt, Naomi Julius, principal Juan Julius, Clarence Daniels and Lesley Jonga.

Hout Bay High is flying the village’s environmental flag high after an outstanding showing at a prestigious national schools competition.

The school placed first in the Western Cape in the EduPlant 2018 Food Gardening competition, supported by the Woolworths Trust. The win follows Hout Bay High’s second placing in the emerging category in 2014.

Pupils Clarence Daniels, Lesley Jonga and Shakur Smidt travelled to Rustenburg during the September holidays for the finals.

The school was one of 66 nationally represented at the competition.

Hout Bay High’s food gardens, one based at the school and the other on the banks of the Disa River, have won widespread acclaim.

The pupils were asked to provide a portfolio of their achievements, while their presentation to the judges also included a play on the challenges in getting their food gardens up and running.

“I’m very proud of this achievement,” said principal Juan Julius.

“Our win needs to be seen in context, because it shows no matter where pupils come from, they can achieve. We want to ensure more of our pupils become involved in extra mural programmes like our enviro club. By doing so, they will improve their overall results and work ethic. We work in a very difficult community, and an award like this gives us all hope for the future.”

The enviro club is run by veteran teacher Naomi Julius, who explained that the EduPlant assessors had made several visits to the school to evaluate their suitability to the competition.

“They looked at the gardens but also at the pupils’ knowledge of the principles of permaculture. I knew we could win because we had done so well in 2014. The competition was stiff though. There was a school from Worcester who work with intellectually-challenged children. Their presentation was very good, and they definitely gave us a run for our money,” Ms Julius said.

Hout Bay High has also been assisting the Hout Bay Association for People with Disabilities with their
own food garden every month, and this also helped to convince the
judges they should take home the trophy. “Since our win, we’ve already had more learners wanting to join the enviro club. Every learner is welcome, and we have a lot of fun. In June, we were paid R7 500 to do a clean-up at the Snoek and Patatfees in Goedverwacht, and we used this money to go to see the flowers at Springbok,” said Ms Julius.

Clarence, who is completing matric this year, said winning a trophy at the EduPlant competition had been a goal for some time.

“I joined the enviro club when I was in Grade 8, so this was something I wanted before I left school,” he said.

Lesley described the win as “amazing”. “I didn’t expect it, but all three of us work so well together. My parents are also very proud.”

For Shakur, the fact that Hout Bay High qualified for the finals would have been enough, so to be named the best in the province meant a lot.

“I’ve been a member of the enviro club for three years, so I’m very happy. My parents always encourage me to do better.”

All the pupils paid tribute to Ms Julius as a wonderful teacher who was a “mother” to everyone at Hout Bay High.