City Parks marks World Environment Day by unveiling food gardens

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World Environment Day is undoubtedly one of the most significant and widely celebrated global environmental calls, to action.  It is with this in mind that the City of Johannesburg and Johannesburg City Parks & Zoo aims to spearhead a series of events in line with the theme, “Think. Eat. Save”.

The anti-food waste and food loss campaign, aims to encourage the global community to reduce our ‘foodprint’ in the wake of the annual wastage of 1.3 billion tons of food.  This catastrophic figure is equivalent to the amount of food produced in the whole of Sub-Sahara Africa.  Ironically 1 in 7 people in the world go to bed hungry every day and more than 20 000 children under the age of 5 die daily from starvation.

The Executive Mayor of the City of Johannesburg, Councillor Mpho Parks Tau in his State of the City Address, was passionate about delivering on his mandate of a liveable city.  The City of Joburg and its entities are striving towards a better quality of life and sufficient food resources where, “no-one should go hungry”, he maintained.  In Johannesburg currently, 42% of the poor go without a meal between 1 and 3 days in a month. 

These realities have prompted the City of Joburg in leading the most comprehensive urban food resilience progamme in the country by forming partnerships in the private sector, non-profit sector, government and communities.  Food insecure areas at the most needed edges of the City have been mobilised and empowered to transform open spaces into viable and sustainable food gardens that would otherwise have become dumpsites.

Johannesburg City Parks & Zoo have to date rolled-out no fewer than 42 much-needed food gardens since 2012 and planted 6500 fruit trees in various schools and child orphanages in Johannesburg.  This initiative is aimed at assisting needy schools in providing nutritious fresh produce to destitute learners, fostering a high-level of environmental awareness in learners and simultaneously teaching children to develop and sustain private food gardens.

An intense call to business to support school-based food gardens has been heeded.  The BMW Financial Services group has sponsored eight food gardens to date, the eighth garden is set to be unveiled in Midrand, on 19 June at the Dulcie September Primary School in Rabie Ridge.  The R150k donation by BMW will assist in offsetting their carbon footprint while assisting with the schools’ feeding programmes.

The Member of the Mayoral Committee for Community Development in the City of Joburg Councillor Chris Vondo echoed the call to action and urged residents to, “think before we eat and help save our environment”, adding that, “World Environment Day reminds us of the critical importance in making conscious decisions, to reduce and ultimately, eradicate food wastage.  In turn, we’ll be saving money, minimising the environmental impact of food production and limiting the enormous drain on natural resources”.

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