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    Posted May 15, 2015 by
    Port Elizabeth, South Africa
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    South African university students grow organic garden for needy students

    Port Elizabeth, South Africa: Five years ago, Agricultural students from the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University (NMMU) established a vegetable garden to provide nutrition for needy students at its campus clinic.

    Dr Tim Pittaway, a lecturer in the Agriculture and Game Management Department, teaches a plant production module to students. He said that the organic garden is an important vehicle to help students gain practical experience. It is used as a simulator to teach them the agricultural process of crop production, from nursery, to soil preparation, to planting, to harvest, and then finally packing.

    Apart from it contributing to the agricultural students’ plant production practical marks, it builds student confidence, provides an environment for them to experiment, and encourages appreciation of nature and a sense of environmental stewardship.

    Dr Pittaway added that nutrition is key to good health, and the garden supports the university’s green initiative. No chemicals were used and it is the only source of fresh, nutritious vegetables for the program.

    Sandisiwe Mkhize, an agriculture student, could not contain her excitement at the sight of vegetables being harvested and donated to the campus clinic for its student feeding program. Lwando Vava, a student, said he used to collect food parcels from the clinic, and praised the students for their hard and selfless work to bless the needy.

    The project is managed by the students and provides nutritional support to 1200 students. Dr Pittaway said that the garden was financed by the university’s Agriculture Department. The program exposes students to learning beyond the classroom, and it is expected that it will be key to shaping rural communities where household incomes are low.
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