Providing food security for South African children with hydroponics

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We are three students of TU Delft: Thijs, Karlijn & Wisse. Together with Belhar Early Childhood Development Centre (BECDC) we are working for six months on a project in the suburb of Belhar in Cape Town, South Africa. The child care is run by volunteers and parents of the children.

The children (1-5 years) have little access to fresh fruit and vegetables. By means of hydroponics, a water-saving growth technique, the child care center wants to offer the children a chance to eat healthily.

In addition, they can sell part of the grown vegetables to organic supermarkets. This is, next to donations, the only source of income of the children's center because the children stay free of charge in the daycare when their parents are at work.

Besides the fact that the cultivated vegetables provide food and money, it also has an educational impact on the children. They learn about planting seeds and what healthy eating is.

So, the grown vegetables provide food and income, but it also has an educational impact on the children. They learn about planting seeds and what healthy eating is.

The goal of a hydroponics system is to grow crops with as little water as possible. In South Africa there has been a drought for years so there is less water available. Normally a lot of water disappears into the soil when growing vegetables. With hydroponics all the water is absorbed into the roots of the plant, so every drop of water is put to good use. Below is a schematic overview of such a system. Fertilizer is added to the water and oxygen is injected into the water by an oxygen pump. A couple of times an hour the water is pumped to the container to moisten the roots.

What will the money be spent on?

The nursery has already arranged plastic containers for the plants and water. We now want to make sure that the system will actually work and that it will continue to work. For this we need some expensive electronic stuff that they can't afford themselves.

Security system

The school is often broken into and to make sure the new stuff is not stolen we want to install a security system. Including motion sensors, a camera and an alarm.

Oxygen pump

To make the system work properly, a large oxygen pump is needed to pump oxygen into the water. A connection for 38 air stones is needed, this is important for the large amount of water.

Water pump

The water must be pumped from the reservoir in another room to the plants, this requires a strong water pump.


Instead of soil, the seeds are placed between the hydroballs and the roots can grow through them to the water. The plants are also easier to remove from the ground because of the hydroballs. This requires 40 bags of 50 liters.

Solar panels

No power is available for the hydroponics system. Therefore, the electronics must work with a solar panel.

Materials for the conversion

To give the current materials a new life, we want to have the hydroponics built from the existing materials. However, for this new system extra tubes, hydro grains and manure are needed.

What do you get in return?

To thank you for your contribution to our project, we would like to send you a present related to hydroponics. Thanks to a cooperation with the super nice company LOFE, we can give a Light Jewel to everyone who made a donation of €20,- (€25,- outside Delft). This is a luminous plant with its roots in the water (hydroponics)! There are three different kinds of plants (see pictures) and you will receive one of these hydroponics at your home if you like. These hydroponics come with lighting, which can light up your room in these dark times. The plant continues to grow on water and sunlight. If you do not want this reward, you can also indicate this with your donation.

If you donate €50,- you can also have a logo or name of your choice put on the check. With this cheque a picture will be taken after the crowdfunding, together with the children of the school. This picture will be posted and you will receive it as well.

For €100,- you will get everything you get with €50,- plus some extra's. Namely a special LOFE Christmas edition! The LOFE core edition consists of two bottles in a wooden holder. One bottle has a plant on water and the other bottle contains lights, giving it a festive look!

Website of LOFE:

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Doel behaald!

09-12-2020 | 14:02 Beste donateurs, We hebben ons doel van €3000 behaald! Heel erg bedankt aan alle donateurs voor jullie bijdrage. De eerste plantjes zijn al bij de eerste donateurs afgeleverd en deze week versturen we de rest. Er kan nog steeds gedoneerd worden en deze opbrengsten gaan natuurlijk ook allemaal naar de kinderopvang. We kunnen dit geld gebruiken om de opvang nog beter op weg te helpen en ook de kas waar het systeem in staat steviger te maken. Dus nieuwe donaties zijn zeker welkom en worden ook beloont met een plantje! De cheque met de namen van de donateurs die €50 of meer hebben gedoneerd wordt begin januari overhandigd aan het opvangcentrum. Wil je als grote donateur graag iets anders op de cheque hebben staan dan de naam die je hebt opgegeven kun je ons mailen op groetjes Thijs, Wisse en Karlijn
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