KDVP plants seeds of food security
King David Victory Park (KDVP) has its first food garden thanks to pupil Jessica Blem and head gardener Frank Ralapelle and his skilled team.
Blem, who manages the SRC’s environmental portfolio, wanted to create a project that wasn’t just meaningful, but sustainable.
She points out that in South Africa, “food insecurity” isn’t just a term that world leaders toss around, it’s a reality brought on by rising food prices, lack of access to proper nutrition, and elevated poverty rates.
“Tikkun olam (healing the world) is ingrained in the ethos of KDVP and is very important to me,” Blem says. “This vegetable garden demonstrates the idea of making the world a better place.”
What’s special about the garden is that its produce – which includes cabbage, beetroot, carrots, butternut, cucumbers, tomatoes, spinach, and a selection of herbs – goes exclusively to the high school ground staff. Not only are they able to feed their families with fresh produce, but as Thabiso Williams, one of the gardeners, says, “I’m even saving a bit of money because I’m no longer buying vegetables.”
The garden also promotes skills development. Nikki Richard, the head of music at KDVP High School, used her experience at Siyakhana Food Garden to compile a training course for the ground staff. Once a week, gardeners and cleaners gather in the music room for training on general health promotion, which includes lessons in nutrition, healthy food preparation, and organic food systems. Richard also harvests produce from the garden and incorporates it into tasty treats that the ground staff can enjoy and replicate.
The project epitomises KDVP’s values of community and neshama (soul). “It leaves a legacy that will continue to help the ground staff and their families for many years to come,” Blem says.