Visitors and participants at the London Produce Show are encouraged to check out the creative collages from schoolchildren all over the UK taking part in Hortgro’s Help a South African School competition.
Schools across the UK were invited to submit collages that represent the theme “Flavours of South Africa”. They will be displayed during the London Produce Show on Thursday June 8 where preliminary judging will take place. This will be followed by final judging at the South African High Commission in London in a few weeks time.
The winning school receives a £1,000 prize plus a bespoke workshop with UK TV presenter, author and broadcaster, Stefan Gates. £1,000 and £500 prizes are also on offer to the second and third placed schools.
Jacques du Preez, general manager for Hortgro – the South African fruit growers trade association based in Paarl in the Western Cape – explains how the 2017 competition is just one way to increase the support they provide for their employees.
“We’re extremely excited about displaying the collages at the London Produce Show this Thursday and we invite people from the industry to come along and take a look at the 36 pieces of work we have this year from schools across the country – they are just brilliant,” he says.
“This year’s theme has led to some very inspiring work from the kids. Obviously we want the schoolchildren to talk about fruit and farming, and go along to the campaign website then share their understanding of that. Some of the kids have created some really wacky stuff.”
“We’ve got one that is covered in South African spices and uses beans and spices to make Nelson Mandela’s face. Another school has sewn and stuffed felt fruit and done lots of research about the fruits that come from South Africa. And we also had our first video entry this year, which is brilliant.
“All the retailers, suppliers, importers and especially all the South Africans at the show are invited to come along and judge; other visitors who would like to come along and take a look are also very welcome. We want to show as many people as we can. These kids have put so much effort in.”
Books to rural South African schools
The Help a South African School competition linked to a book donation initiative where schools across the UK are encouraged to donate old and unwanted books to be dispatched to rural communities in South Africa in much need of educational materials.
The campaign also drives home the message that buying South African fruit really does make a difference in local communities where profits are ploughed back into the sector, as well as raise awareness of the South African fruit industry as a whole.
“We send all kinds of books; last year we sent almost 1,000 boxes filled with textbooks and reading books to kids in rural parts of South Africa who don’t really have access to these kinds of materials,” du Preez continues.
“This is our sixth year and it’s been going from strength to strength. We work with several partners who do an amazing job with the logistics. Hermes makes collections from schools all over the UK, and Damco and Maersk very generously take care of the shipping.
“The Beautiful Country, Beautiful Fruit campaign (now in its ninth year) is about the provenance of the fruit, its superior taste and the fact that UK shoppers are doing good by putting it in their baskets.”