South Africans have taken food security into their own hands. During the national lockdown, thousands lost their jobs, and others were affected by wage cuts and income loss…
Many households continue to struggle to feed their member, but in some suburbs, South Africans have used what little resources they have to establish community food gardens. And thanks to Shoprite, 17 gardens (10 of which are in Soweto) have benefitted from a large donation of seedlings.
The Sgangala food garden was established in April 2020 at the height of the national lockdown and consists of three pavement gardens and 20 homes gardens in the historic Vilakazi street precinct.
“Our first priority is to bring hunger relief. In order to do so, we plan to plant pavement gardens all the way up to the Hector Pieterson Museum and document our story on the walls behind these gardens,” says Tsholofelo Molatlau (40), a beneficiary and founder of the Sgangala food garden in Orlando West.
“Ultimately we want to establish an eco-tourism hub, which we will call the Garden Route, that will hopefully serve as a catalyst for economic development in the community,” explains Molatlau.
“This kind of support means the world to our (garden) project. We have zero budget and therefore depend completely on such aid, which means we can get to our ultimate goals faster.”
This is the first time the Group has supported so many projects at once:
“Since the lockdown we have been inundated with requests for assistance. We therefore decided to roll-out more gardens, on a slightly smaller scale, specifically to build resilience in communities at a household level,” says Shoprite’s CSI Manager, Lunga Schoeman
As a food retailer, the Shoprite Group is best placed to address the problem of hunger through its support of food gardens.
It has since 2015 invested over R26.5 million in 128 community food gardens and 578 home gardens. This support includes 18 months’ training in permaculture methods and financial management, and the donation of plant material, gardening infrastructure and tools amongst others.
From dump site to feeding the community!
A community garden, situated on a former dump site on the corner of Mtipa and Tambo streets, was started in July 2020 by school friends Njabulo Kubeca (26) and Ayanda Madlopha (25).
They cleared the dump site originally so that Kubeca could set up his snack bar next to it, but they discovered rich, fertile soil under all of the rubbish.
Together with three other young people from Orlando West they started growing cabbage, spinach, tomatoes and beetroot, which they donate to elderly people in the area.
They also received a donation from Shoprite, but weren’t able to use the plants in their small plot, so decided to plan them in the gardens and yards of the homes of people they usually donate veggies to!
“Our vegetables normally go to between 20 and 30 households. There wasn’t space on our 40m2 plot for more plants so we used this donation to plant gardens at homes we normally give our produce to,” explains Kubeca.
Their dream is to establish a farming enterprise as they believe this is the best way to bring about change in their community.
“We’re working on the plan to secure funding for our farm, but until then we’ll keep on tending the garden here and providing for the most vulnerable in our community,” says Kubeca.