Students learn about organic farming through journalism

Ingrid Zerafa with the students at The Veg Box at Villa Bologna, Attard.

Ingrid Zerafa with the students at The Veg Box at Villa Bologna, Attard.

Eight students aged between 11 and 14, from St Michael’s Foundation, San Ġwann, recently had a hands-on experience of environmental journalism to learn how to report responsibly on organic farming practices and proper labelling of food products.

The course was part of an initiative launched by Kopin Malta, a non-governmental and non-profit organisation, called EAThink 2015, to support and promote neat eating and sustainable, organic living.

As part of their workshop, conducted by Ingrid Zerafa, a former journalist at the Times of Malta, the students visited Vincent’s Eco Farm, Mġarr, and The Veg Box at Villa Bologna, Attard, which both practise organic farming.

“As growers, we have the responsibility to provide consumers with the right information and educate them on the right food they should be eating and how to prepare it,” said Emanuela De Giorgio, manager and farmer at Villa Bologna’s The Veg Box.

This falls within the concept of knowing your farmer, which is the best guarantee you can get to know the source of your food.

The students learnt that it is not always possible to know food producers personally in today’s global reality; one also needs to learn how to read labels carefully to understand the process food has been subjected to.

The million-dollar question is: how sustainable is organic farming?

Vincent’s Eco Farm manager and farmer Pawlu Debono said that so long as there is a healthy and conscious demand for food that has not been contaminated with artificial chemicals, or hormones and antibiotics, like in the case of meat, there continues to be a supply, which is on the increase.

“More labour and spoilage make organic produce at least 30 per cent more expensive than conventional farming,” said Mr Debono. “But people understand that they can actually spend less by buying less quantities and investing in good-quality food in the amounts they need.”

Through the EaThink 2015 project, St Michael’s Foundation has developed its own organic garden, growing various crops under De Giorgio’s supervision and guidance.

Nicole Scerri, a teacher at the school who assisted the students on the project, said: “As part of our responsibility to raise environmental awareness and promote ethical citizenship, we thought this project was an excellent way to show our students the full cycle of living organically and sustainably, starting from growing our own produce, to showing students how to report on sustainable food practices.”

The EAThink 2015 project was made possible thanks to the co-financing of the European Commission, the Parliamentary Secretary for Youth, Sports and Voluntary Organisations and Voice Foundation.

For more information, visit the website below or follow ‘EAThink 2015 – Malta’ on Facebook.

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