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Nelson Mandela University’s second organic vegetable garden has taken root and is set to benefit dozens of students looking for a healthier bite amid fertilised and commercialised options.

Designed by Urban Gardens pioneer Trevin van der Walt, the gardens feature a range of seasonal, organically grown crops.

Standing in the middle of the shade cloth-enclosed garden at the back of the Sanlam Student Village, close to the university’s south campus, Van der Walt carefully scanned the rows of growing vegetables, among them leafy spinach almost ready for harvesting.

There are also neat rows of onions, carrots, potatoes, green peppers and beetroot.

This garden was completed at the end of March, while another one at the Lebombo residence at the north campus was completed earlier in 2019.

One of his main objectives, Van der Walt said, was to produce vegetables packed with nutritional value.

“We have unfortunately lost the nutritional value of food.

“I remember when my grandmother used to pick tomatoes on our farm you could immediately smell that she’d been picking tomatoes even if you were in the other side of the house.

“So I want to try to get the food back to taste like the food tasted then.

“Linked to it is the nutritional value of food. There’s a saying in English ‘an apple a day keeps the doctor away’ – these days I think you’d need a wheelbarrow full of apples to possibly keep the doctor away – if it doesn’t kill you first because of all the pesticides and the genetically modified aspects that have come into our food.

“We need to go back to the basics as to what the plant needs.”

He said the organic vegetable garden was part of the university’s programme aimed at keeping student hunger at bay.

“I must also say thanks to Tiger Brands [because] they are doing a huge amount in supplying students who need to be fed and students who need nutritional food by supplying food parcels that are given out on a weekly basis. And so this is a way of adding fresh, nutritious food to those food parcels,” Van der Walt said.

University spokesperson Zandile Mbabela concurred.

“Student hunger is one of the biggest challenges and saddest realities within the higher education sector at present.

“The university, through such partnerships, has been working to alleviate this challenge as we are cognizant of the need for good, balanced nutrition as this goes a long way towards ensuring the overall academic success of our students.”

This article appeared in the Weekend Post (South Africa) of 18 May 2019 written by Siyabonga Sesant


Contact information
Ms Zandile Mbabela
Media Manager
Tel: 0415042777