University of the Free State: GROW your own vegetables

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At the University of the Free State (UFS), research findings have indicated that 59% of students do not know where their next meal will come from. The recent COVID-19 pandemic contributed to the unemployment rate of 34,9%, adding to the likelihood of our students being affected even more by food insecurity.

One of the initiatives the university has created to address the issue, is a vegetable production and training programme. The purpose of the programme, which was established by the Department of Sustainable Food Systems and Development, KovsieACT, and the Food Environment Office, is to teach students how to produce vegetables.

A variety of vegetables, including beans, spinach, onions, and carrots, are sheltered in 40 vegetable boxes in the two 300 m² tunnels opposite the Welwitschia Residence on the Bloemfontein Campus. Not only is this initiative providing students with fresh produce that supplements the food parcels they receive from the Food Environment Office through the No Student Hungry Project. It also provides them with the opportunity to get involved on a voluntary basis in the food production process, including the planting and harvesting of the vegetables.

Food production is an important skill in growing one’s own food. Moreover, it is also a valuable skill for students to transfer to their communities back home.

From mid-August through to the end of October is planting season for a number of vegetables. Starting spring on a high note, the Department of Sustainable Food Systems and Development, KovsieACT, and the Food Environment Office invited food security activist, Thabo Olivier, to address the university community and provide some valuable guidelines to grow your own food in innovative ways.

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