The unit has two greening projects which are rolled out in schools and communities i.e. fruit tree distribution in communities and development of food gardens in schools. The Fruit Tree Project is an initiative aimed at planting fruit trees in people’s homes, especially in historically marginalised areas to enhance food security while greening these areas. To date, over 30,000 fruit trees have been distributed and planted in areas such as Orange Farm, Cosmo City, Lufhereng, Doornkop and Braamfischerville. The tree distribution project is accompanied by tree care and maintenance education where members of the community are educated on a particular fruit tree species at the comfort of their own home. Fruit tree education involves educating communities on how to select a site to plant a fruit tree, how to dig a hole, care and maintenance of fruit trees including pest control. Based on the information given people are provided an opportunity to decide if they want a fruit tree for their home or not. A verification process is in place to confirm if the trees have indeed been planted in households that have collected trees during distribution. The verification is conducted by Community Based Educators (CBEs) who are drawn from the local community. Fruit trees planted in different areas have survived and can be seen when driving along the areas they were planted; an achievement the unit is proud of as it makes a vital difference in the communities we serve.

The food gardens project is another project which involves the establishment of a 100m² food garden in a school and it is mainly fuelled by sponsorships secured by the Unit. So far 43 food gardens have been developed in schools across the City of Johannesburg, especially in predominantly marginalised areas. Schools that participate in the project are from historically and socioeconomically challenged townships and have been identified in consultation with the Department of Education. The vegetable gardens enhance nutritional feeding schemes available in the respective schools while also improving the livelihoods of community members who take care of the gardens on behalf of the schools. The gardens enhance curriculum learning as they are used as a teaching and learning resource for curriculum learning.

Before developing the gardens, a greening team made up of parents, educators and learners is formed in each school. The group is exposed to a series of workshops such as soil and compost making, site selection, preparation and planting methods, pest control, propagation and harvesting methods and food preparation recipes. After each workshop, the participants are given work-away tasks ensuring that they immediately implement what they have learnt during food gardening workshops. Once the gardens are established, the various centres conduct and offer onsite support for three years to ensure continuity and sustainability.

How to Start you own vegetable garden