Two South African community garden heroes give back to the people

Two recent acts of horticultural heroism that represent the true meaning of ubuntu are inspiring South Africans to give back to the community and put food on the tables of those in need.

Community food gardens provide an important tool for household food security in South Africa, where less than half the population is food secure and 12 million people go hungry every day. (Image: Wikipedia)

One man’s good deed inspires another. Heidelberg retiree Johan Scott became a local viral sensation in November 2017 when he began a pavement vegetable garden for those in need. His single, simple act of kindness inspired admiration from South Africans but, more importantly, it also inspired others to start their own community gardens.

While community gardens are not a new trend in the quest to feed the nation, with hundreds of projects around South Africa up and running successfully, Scott’s garden is a good example of how a single act can affect a positive change in the world.

Scott, a retired policeman, decided to plant the open garden outside his home after some of the vegetables from his garden inside his property were taken. Instead of opening a case with the police, he approached the issue constructively.

Speaking to News24, Scott described how he dug up the pavement outside his house and planted beans, tomatoes, eggplants and beetroot, and let those in need help themselves to the fruits of his labour. Thanks to the good rains this summer, most of his crop will be ready and available so that people will be able to put something on the table this festive season.

“People are hungry,” Scott said. “They desperately need something like this, and that’s why I did it. It makes my heart happy when I see people eating the vegetables.”

A Facebook post about Scott by Afrikaans newspaper Rapport has been shared more than 4,000 times, alongside hundreds of messages of thanks and inspiration.

“Indeed, a man with a heart of gold and an example to us all,” read one message. “Here’s to decreasing the number of people who go to bed hungry,” said another. Others offered help by way of donating seeds and gardening supplies, while many were inspired to begin their own gardens to give back to their people in their communities.

Sipho Simelane from Midvaal, Gauteng, read the post and was prompted to use a piece of land he owned to plant a vegetable garden for those in need.

Writing on Facebook, Simelane said: “I’m not a farmer [but I] would like to see this land used… any child, family, church or company can put their ideas, time, skill, resources to get this going and use this [one hectare] to plant and feed the hungry. A lot of companies have corporate social investment and I [invite them to become part of the project]. Let’s put our money where our mouths are.”

This second social media post also went viral and Simelane and Scott’s good deeds are being shared across the country and the world.

“This is the kind of news we need to make run like a veld fire. Awesome Johan Scott and Sipho Simelane. There are good people in our beautiful South Africa,” wrote one commenter on Simelane’s post.

For more information about the various community garden projects in South Africa and how you can start your own, read this informative article published by the University of Free State in April 2017.

Source:  Good Things Guy website

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