So far, our Food System Heroes series has featured entrepreneurs who are currently enrolled in our #FoodSystem incubation program. However, this week we decided to dedicate our blog post to one of our mentors, Jade Orgill. We not only provide our entrepreneurs with access to our pool of mentors, but we also facilitate mentorship and match entrepreneurs with mentors. Our 100+ entrepreneurs and mentors are essential to our #FoodSystem incubation program.
Jade is a Human Development Specialist who has been tackling food security by planning, setting up and maintaining a rolling 10 food gardens at different schools each year in the Western Cape. Their intention is to support a respective feeding scheme at local schools. Once a food garden is operational, Jade hands it over to be run independently. All her projects follow two main principles, which are sustainability and self-sufficiency.
Jade’s social enterprise, “The Sprightly Seed,” claims that meeting a child’s nutritional needs is meeting their basic needs. This is a thought-provoking idea and has become the audacious motto of her NGO, which seeks to address food security and increase the nutritional value of a feeding scheme. In Jade’s opinion, “every child in South Africa should have the same balanced nutritional starting block.” The Sprightly Seed assists schools with building resources, developing food gardening skills, and monitoring. “Nutritious food is crucial for a child’s ability to learn as well as their mental and physical development. Hence, we consider it a basic and essential need,” Jade explained.
“An important part of our projects is that we not only feed children, we also engage them”. Jade told us. This is particularly true for her current food garden project at Bel Porto School in Lansdowne, Cape Town. We visited the garden that is currently being built to be able to report back, share information with you about Jade’s incredible new project, and tell you how you can get involved if you feel compelled to get involved!
The garden at Bel Porto not only focuses on building the infrastructure for vegetable production but also supports the integration of ecosystems and learning for enrolled children. The plan is to increase the surrounding community's involvement and create employment for school leavers. The project is being kicked off with the help of the PYEI, the Presidential Youth Employment Initiative. This initiative fund focuses on supporting projects like this as a social employment mechanism targeted at youth in the catchment community.
The garden at Bel Porto so far has been going through three development stages: Designing the site, preparing the land, and laying out the design in the field. The agricultural infrastructure implementation is planned to be completed by the end of 2023.
The project represents a permaculture hub that focuses on employing school leavers from Bel Porto Special School for differently-abled students and has an outdoor classroom and training space geared towards youth skills development in Applied Permaculture Systems. The permaculture site will include a designated area for food processing, vegetable production, growing healing plants, and seed saving, as well as creating natural pesticides and fertilizers.
At this stage, Jade is busy getting the system working and conducting market research to find out to whom the school can sell their veggies. A huge focus of the garden at Bel Porto, which already has a small animal farm attached, is biodynamic fertility systems consisting of hot compositing, vermiculture, farm manure, and black soldier fly production.
In some way, Jade considers her project at Bel Porto as a pilot that could be used as a template for the country on how to “turn schools into green, sustainable, and educational thriving income generators.”
“An important part of our permaculture garden will be to encourage the broader community as well as other schools to come and learn,” Jade told us. In the future, as soon as the operation is set up and ready, the garden will be handed over to the school and she will look to implement it at a different school.
The Sprightly Seed’s permaculture garden at Bel Porto Special School will offer regular training intervals with a stipend offering an internship program, which extends the learning time frame and seeks to boost the practical experience of candidates. The training program is currently working towards accreditation
as a training facility through AGRISETA. Jade intends to team up with the Department of Agriculture to offer training at NQF levels 2 and 4. She also intends to explore ways to make the program accessible to a wider demographic beyond school leavers.
Jade is open to mutually beneficial collaborations with those who are interested in getting involved in the training and internship program. Her site at Bel Porto is very much educational, and experiential, and intended to be a hub for business skills development within the agricultural sector.
Written by Dennis Molewa.