Gardening with a twist

INMED is offering a new fresh take on agriculture, with an innovative system that allows children to develop a keen interest in agriculture as a profession.

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10Oct

The aquaponics project is showing students that farming and growing food can be fun.

The project combines innovative food production from aquaculture (fish farming), with soilless crop production using water in a closed symbiotic system.

“Both INMED and Air Products believe that the future of South Arica is in the hands of today’s kids, and for our country to be a healthy and prosperous place to live, we need to start with developing healthy children,” says Janet Ogilvie, Operations Manager at INMED South Africa.

 According to Ogilvie, Air Products understands that nutritious meals at school directly affect school performance.

INMED recently implemented aquaponics and adaptive agriculture projects at a number of schools.

The new Aquaponics system at Laerskool Kempton Park, a full-service primary school that also accommodates the needs of children with disabilities, is the third such school-based system INMED Partnerships for Children and INMED South Africa have installed in partnership with Air Products.

“INMED has pioneered the use of school-based aquaponics to improve the nutrition and food security of children in disadvantaged communities in South Africa for more than 10 years,” says Dr Linda Pfeiffer, President and CEO of INMED Partnerships for Children. 

Other schools that offer aquaponics include Lesedi La Kresta Anglican Primary School, HTS Carel De Wet and Randvaal Primary School, where pupils are trained in both aquaponics and traditional gardening.

The INMED aquaponics project has seen an increase in the nutritional intake of pupils at beneficiary schools

“We find the students love being involved in growing their own food, as all produce harvested is used in school feeding schemes. The biggest outcome has been the increase in the nutritional intake of the kids at the beneficiary schools,” says Ogilvie.

Additional benefits of the project include learning opportunities for maths, biology and science.

“Calculating grow area, litres of water in the tank and water volume to grow bed space can be taught in maths class, science can be explained in how gravity moves the water and biology covers seed germination, plant growth and fish anatomy, among other things,” explains Ogilvie.

The Health in Action Programme also allows them to work in 110 schools between Johannesburg and Port Elizabeth, helping schools develop traditional gardens and feed learners at neighbouring institutions.

“The produce from this system is used to feed children in the neighbouring Missionvale schools in Port Elizabeth, who also visit the system to learn about aquaponics. Although these schools do not have aquaponics systems, we are happy to arrange visits to systems so they can learn how to grow aquaponically,” says Ogilvie.

For more information about INMED’s aquaponics and adaptive agriculture programmes, visit: inmed.org/aquaponics.