09 March 2023 | Story Lunga Luthuli | Photo Lunga Luthuli
Volunteer students participating in a two-day training by KovsieACT to learn fundamental principles of gardening, including soil preparation, planting, watering, fertilising, and pest management.

To ensure food security for students, KovsieACT – in collaboration with the Department of Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems – held training sessions for approximately 150 student volunteers at the University of the Free State (UFS) community gardens on the Bloemfontein Campus. 

The UFS project consists of two large food tunnels, which provide an educational intervention that addresses food insecurity on campus, and by extension, food insecurity challenges students experience in their hometowns, at home, and in their villages.

Karen Scheepers, Assistant Director: Student Life, said: “The purpose of this training is to equip students with the necessary skills to identify or recognise the need for and importance of planting and taking care of vegetables. Participating students also learned the fundamental principles of gardening, including soil preparation, planting, watering, fertilising, and pest management.”

During the training held on 8 and 9 March 2023, students were also trained to choose the right seeds and to start their own seed germination project. “The aim is to provide students with the knowledge and skills they need to grow and maintain a thriving vegetable garden,” added Scheepers.

The training was conducted by experienced professionals from the department, with students also getting an opportunity to ask questions and interact with fellow students who share their passion for gardening.

Scheepers said: “This training is a great opportunity for students to learn new skills, make new friends, and connect with the community. It will also help them to lead a healthier and more sustainable lifestyle.

The training is an extension of the institution’s No Student Hungry Programme (NSH), which continues to ensure that hundreds of students are supported with food parcels, including vegetables and non-perishable items. The NSH programme provides food to insecure students through modest food allowances and daily access to one balanced meal.

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