Lowveld NBG Useful Plants Project gets schools involved

18 November 2014

A learner works in the school garden - Useful Plants Project

The Lowveld National Botanical Garden’s (LNBG) Project MGU-the Useful Plants Project* (UPP) team, in partnership with the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, continues delivering to schools in and around the Ehlanzeni district in its continued effort to educate and empower communities about the uses and benefits of indigenous medicinal plant species.

The main aim of the UPP team’s work is to educate local community members about medicinal plants and how they can be used to treat various ailments.

Having medicinal gardens in schools means that learners do not have to travel many kilometres to the Lowveld NBG to acquire knowledge on them. The UPP team works together with traditional leaders from the communities to gather information on the plants and uses it to create storyboards at schools which are used by teachers in their curriculum.

One of the useful plants school gardens visited by the Useful Plants Project team

Teacher, learner participation

The project recently visited five schools, namely; Mahlatsi Secondary School, kaMhlushwa Primary School, Alexandra Primary School, Mphiti Primary School and Enkhokhokhweni Primary School where a total of 185 plants were planted by students in each of the schools.

“I am very pleased with the outcomes of the planting that took place in schools last week, it went really well, many teachers and students came and they were quite eager to participate in planting more medicinal plants,” said Lucy Shai, UPP’s team leader at the Lowveld NBG.

A Useful Plants Project team member at one of the school gardens

Future prospects

Shai further added that “the schools are really putting in a great deal of effort in the maintenance of their gardens and I was happy to see the plants in full bloom”.

The highlights from the week were seeing the developments of kaMhlushwa Primary School’s new Indigenous Park and discussing the prospects of Mahlatsi Primary School turning their medicinal plant garden into a larger and more informative botanical garden.

In future the UPP project would like to see all rural community schools establish medicinal gardens accompanied by story boards and plant labels. 

Learners look on as a Useful Plants Project team member works on their school garden.

*Project MGU-the Useful Plants Project (UPP) began in June 2007 from a proposal made to the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew,  by a philanthropist based in Spain. The name MGU reflects the generous support provided by this philanthropist for the work of the project. The project is managed from the UK by the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew and implemented by Lowveld NBG in South Africa. It also runs in 4 other countries: Botswana, Kenya, Mali and Mexico. 

For more information contact:

Ms Lucy Shai

Tel: 013 752 5531

Email: L.shai@sanbi.org.za

Visit the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew project website: http://www.kew.org/science-conservation/research-data/science-directory/projects/project-mgu-useful-plants-project

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