In celebration of this year’s World Food Day’s theme ‘Our Actions are our Future’, a volunteer group of employees from Woolworths Hemingways Mall and Vincent Park stores rolled up their sleeves and went to work with learners in the permaculture food garden at Manyano Primary School.

 Situated in Mdantsane, Manyano Primary School has 234 learners including orphaned and vulnerable children.  They started their food garden in 2006 and have attended the EduPlant programme’s one day and cluster workshops earlier this year as well as entered this last year’s competition. 

“This will be the first time that our store employees will be participating in an EduPlant programme volunteer day,” says, Johan Claasen Store Manager of Woolies Hemingways store, “It’s a wonderful opportunity to go out into our community, join the kids in getting our hands dirty and learn all about permaculture food gardening while helping to expand the garden and boost their school’s sustainable food production.”

As part of the Woolworths Employee Community Involvement Programme, over the last two months store employees are volunteering at ten schools across the country to recognise the importance of local, sustainably-produced, good food and help them take their food gardens to the next level.  They will work side by side with learners and educators to dig new beds, mulch, compost, plant and water.  In addition to the volunteer time and ‘sweat equity’ from their local Woolies stores’ employees, the retailer also donates vital resources like compost, seedlings and tools to Manyano Primary School.

As one of South Africa’s big five food retailers, Woolworths partnered with the EduPlant Programme fourteen years ago and has been the main funder of the programme in an effort to improve food security in various communities across South Africa.  EduPlant initiated and managed by Food & Trees for Africa is the country’s leading food gardening programme, it provides free workshops for educators to learn permaculture skills and a biennial schools food garden competition. Manyano Primary School has a flourishing food garden which provides fresh vegetables, herbs and fruit for their school’s feeding scheme and any surplus is given to vulnerable learners to take home with them.

“The EduPlant volunteer day creates an opportunity for colleagues at Woolies stores around the country to take action and make a difference in their communities,” says Zinzi Mgolodela, Director of Corporate Affairs at Woolworths, “Every day, our colleagues work with commitment to make good food that is sustainably produced available through our national network of stores.  This is a way for them to give up some of their time to have a different kind of good food experience which is really inspiring as it is improving the lives of South Africans in need.”