Hout Bay High enviro club ready to sell produce

Hout Bay High School’s enviro club members hard a work.

Hout Bay High School’s enviro club is ready to sell its food-garden produce to the public.

The school used to have two gardens, one on limited space in the school grounds and the other on the banks of the Disa River. These went to seed when principal Juan Julius reluctantly retired early last year.

Mr Julius was then called back seven months ago by the Western Cape Education Department. According to its spokeswoman, Bronagh Hammond, “There was a vacant post after his retirement. We were unable to find a suitable replacement at that senior level while the recruitment process was under way. Therefore, he was asked to act on a contract basis.”

Mr Julius said he found the veggie gardens in ruins when he returned and he set himself the goal of reviving the one on the school grounds.

“It used to be a cornerstone of the school and inspired visitors to help us in other ways such as donating a data projector, stationery, laptops and addressing other needs,” he said.

His efforts to return the veggie garden to its former glory were supported by the pupils and Thrive, a programme that works with schools on issues of environmental sustainability.

Seven months later, the school has produce ready to sell.

In the past, said Mr Julius, the school sold veggies to residents and local businesses and Woolworths let them sell their produce in front of the store on Fridays.

The school has a number of large water tanks that are used for drip irrigation, and it gets manure from the riding schools and crates from a Constantia wine farm.

“It’s all organic and we have a packaging facility at the school,” Mr Julius said.

Enviro club pupil Ashwin Swart said they weeded and watered the garden throughout the week, and he loved taking the veggies home because he knew where they came from.

Last year, the school competed in the Western Cape Agriculture Food Garden Competition. It was the overall winner in the “school” category and came second in the “small farm” section, competing against small farmers.

The school used R25 000 prize money to hire a kombi that took enviro club members to Etosha National Park for 10 days. The club members also spent a week in the Kruger National Park and slept on the Vaal River. “With fantastic educational lessons and mingling with different communities, doing sport and environmental challenges,” said Mr Julius.

The enviro club has also travelled to Sutherland, where pupils saw the telescopes at the South African Astronomical Observatory, and to Namaqualand to learn about granite mining.

When Sentinel visited the school, Zikhona Mdanase, the operations manager with Thrive, had brought seeds to plant. She teaches pupils at Silikamva High School and Hout Bay Primary and High schools about reducing waste, compost making, sewing seeds, garden maintenance, saving energy, dealing with pests, nutrition, and the importance of growing their own food.

The enviro club also runs beach clean-ups and a recycling project.

To find out about buying veggies, contact Sharon Wagner at 021 790 4951 or houtbayhigh@gmail.com.

Thrive operations manager Zikhona Mdanase with some of Hout Bay High School’s enviro club members.
Aline Sumuni weeding one of the troughs donated by Constantia wine farms.
The veggie garden is squashed between the school buildings and the boundary.
Water collected in tanks is used for drip irrigation.
Hout Bay High School’s enviro club is ready to sell its produce to the public.