The Department of Environmental Affairs and Development Planning (DEA&DP) celebrated its annual Arbor Month and National Recycling Week event, at St Matthews Primary School in Beaufort West.
On the 10th and 11th September, a two-day workshop was held at the school to raise awareness around the importance of greening, vegetable planting and improving waste minimisation to create a more sustainable community.
Under the theme of ‘Forests and Sustainable Cities’, Beaufort West’s reputation as a drought stricken area meant that planting trees was not a sustainable approach to addressing the greening of the community. Rudolf van Jaarsveldt, Head of Communication for DEA&DP said: “Arbor Day/month advocates for the planting of trees and plants that provide food. It was therefore decided to establish a vegetable garden at St Matthews Primary School which would benefit the feeding scheme already in operation at the school.”
Beans, peas, beetroots, carrots and a variety of lettuces were just some of the seeds planted for the new vegetable garden. A group of 24 Grade 6 learners were selected who showed a keen interest in biology and science. Each of the learners were given a Veggiepak of seeds and dubbed the ‘guardians’ of the school vegetable garden.
Also in attendance were environmental management learners, representatives from Beaufort West Municipality, WC Departments of Education and Agriculture, National Department of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries, and SANPARKS.
“This event is a fantastic example of how collaboration between different government departments can work Better Together to improve the lives of school learners and how the message we are sending addresses a range of topics from the environment, health, food security, and sustainable greening,” said van Jaarsveldt.
Day 2 of the programme consisted of a presentation on Arbor Month, Waste Management and a clean-up of a field near St Matthews school in the town. The workshop presentation saw a representative from Karoo National Park (SANPARKS) presenting on the correct way to plant trees and identifying the correct type of trees to plant which are suitable for the area – especially taking into account the drought. The team from DEA&DP’s Waste Management unit workshopped recycling and how waste is a commodity. They showed examples of how to sort waste for recycling and what products waste can be turned into.
Finally, a blitz clean-up was conducted, as part of the Good Green Deeds campaign, of a field bordering St Matthews Primary school. 38 participants from an environmental management learnership programme collected a total of 25kg of waste in under 20 minutes. This exercise proved the effectiveness of waste clean ups and how sorting of this waste can be diverted from landfill.