By The Herald - September 2023
GreenTEC members, from left, Bongi Mkolose, Sinenthlanthla Zono, Seofra Nathane, Khanya Liwani, Nozama Gege and Siyamthanda Gwayi (absent: Thandile Martins) 
A young cooperative of PE College engineering graduates is looking for funding to build community managed greenhouses with eco-conscious materials to produce seedlings. Nelson Mandela University’s Centre for Integrated Post School Education and Training (CIPSET) is working with the group of TVET college graduates on the greenhouse and community food systems project.
A group of seven formerly unemployed youngsters make up Green Technologies Engineering Cooperative – GreenTEC – which is the implementing organisation for the project. CIPSET’s role is to provide mentoring support to GreenTEC, and to community farmers across the metro. CIPSET researcher Irna Senekal says the action research project aims to help the TVET team apply developing artisanal skills through eco-conscious design.
So far GreenTEC has completed a number of plumbing, maintenance and installation jobs in schools and private homes in Nelson Mandela Bay, including retrofitting lights for energy efficiency. The main benefits of the project are support for cooperative members to develop and apply their skills in green construction, plumbing and electrification, and mentoring to strengthen their policies and systems. An additional benefit is the focus on seedling production with community food producers. This will support local food production and contribute to ecoconsciousness and climate change resilience. Until now, seedlings have been bought from commercial producers.
GreenTEC cooperative secretary Khanya Liwani says the group was “super excited” to be part of the greenhouse and community food systems project. “Greenhouses are not just a tool for the home gardener to extend the growing season; they can be an incredibly valuable educational tool too.”
“Growing plants in a greenhouse is not only good for mental and physical well-being - it can also teach students and the community responsibility, plant biology, entrepreneurship and more.”
GreenTEC was established at the end of 2021 and started operating in 2022, with funding and mentoring support through CIPSET. CIPSET’s work over the past five years with communitybased food producers includes a range of organised, and frequently youth-led, actions to address the livelihoods crisis and hunger across the Nelson Mandela Bay Metro. Initially, this greenhouse and community food systems project will serve community food producers associated with the Zwide Development Forum. Later, depending on funding, it hopes to serve across the Nelson Mandela Bay Metro.
This piece was originally published by The Herald on 11 September 2023.
Posted on 15 September 2023 10:57:52

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