Learners at C.W. Hendrickse Primary School at Uitenhage, Eastern Cape, have started an initiative to give back to the carbon grid. They also want to learn about different plant species, especially succulent plants such as Spekboom, which is also known as pork bush or elephant’s food. It is South Africa’s own indigenous wonder plant.

As the drought deepens in the Nelson Mandela Bay region, this school has grown a 240-square metre garden using solely succulent plants.

Climate change is a global concern and future planting is fast becoming the solution. Learners at Hendrickse Primary maintain their garden to give back to the ozone layer. Cacti are very strong in eliminating bacteria and tackling pollution.

Educator Dorothy Taai says the learners plan to also use their knowledge at home.

“Our school is situated in a very disadvantaged area and we try to teach our learners how to beautify their environment and homes. In that, we are hoping that learners will learn. With a cacti garden being here, these plants do not need a lot of water. It is possible you can still have a beautiful clean environment despite the drought we are facing and ultimately, if you want to see a change, you must champion the change.”

The learners say they are very excited to be part of the initiative.

“My name is Fathiya Allie and I think that climate change is all about the pollution in South Africa and all over the world.”

Cacti plants are cherished in many countries, especially those struggling to adapt to climate change.

Botanist landscaper, Joel Kivedo says the garden boasts several succulent species.

“Being succulent plants, they don’t need water every day, they need it once every two weeks; all depends on the type of cacti we have in this garden. Unfortunately, we don’t have a planet B so we must rescue it ourselves with our youth to play a major part in rescuing the planet.”

In countries such as Ethiopia and Madagascar, where they’re experiencing extreme drought, a lot of the people survive on cacti plants. Cacti plants and Spekboom are also edible and can be used to feed people as well as animals. The school wants to expand their Little Eden.