Educational institutions in disadvantaged communities are increasingly turning to aquaponics to provide more nutritious meals for students, serve as an educational resource and generate income for school operations. Carel De Wet Technical High School in Vanderbijlpark, for example, was the first recipient of an INMED commercial aquaponic system in South Africa. Sponsored by Air Products, this system has produced fresh food and income for the school since 2012.
Another Air Products-sponsored aquaponic system is located at Rand Vaal Primary School in Gauteng Province. Installed in 2015, the system has been extremely bountiful, with all the produce used for the school feeding scheme meals. A third aquaponics system and sensory garden were installed by INMED with Air Products in 2017 at Laerskool Kempton Park, a full-service primary school in Johannesburg that also accommodates the needs of children with disabilities. The aquaponic system grow beds and flooring were specially designed to allow wheelchair-dependent students to easily participate in the planting and harvesting activities, as well as the care and feeding of the fish. The sensory garden—featuring a barefoot walking path of various textures, water and sound walls, fragrant fruit trees and vines, brightly colored plants and garden toys—also has proven to be a particularly effective teaching tool and therapeutic resource for students with disabilities.
Via INMED’s Health In Action Programme, hundreds of food handlers are trained to incorporate garden produce into school meals is part of INMED’s multi-faceted approach to combating obesity and malnutrition in South Africa. Delivered in three languages, the training focuses on preparing nutritious meals that children will eat, healthy portion sizes, safe food handling and proper hygiene practices.
The message rang clearly for Belinda Moonsammy, a food preparer at Malabar Primary School in Port Elizabeth. “It’s the first time ever that we received training on meal planning and healthy lifestyles,” she notes. “We’ll make sure that we impart knowledge gained as we prepare meals for learners both in schools and at our homes.”