Food security is a critical issue, with families and individuals in townships, rural areas and informal settlements across South Africa deemed to be food insecure. An increasing income gap is adding to the challenge.
In an effort to overcome food insecurity and poverty in disadvantaged communities in Cape Town, the Abalimi Bezekhaya, or “farmers of the home”, non-profit organisation helps people to help themselves by establishing and maintaining food gardens.
Jenny Smuts, the volunteer marketing co-ordinator at Abalimi, explains that it is “a teaching organisation that basically teaches people to subsist”.
“I don’t want my people begging,” says Christina Kaba, a field operations manager at a food garden in Gugulethu, a township on the outskirts of the Mother City. “We aren’t poor anymore. Now is the time that we must stand up. The bread is in the soil; the food is in the soil.
“The first thing, easy, is to grow the vegetables. It doesn’t matter if you live in a shack, if you have a drum you can make holes and put the compost, put the soil, you can plant the vegetables and you can eat.”
Kaba is one of many people scattered throughout the city’s townships who has taken charge of her life and made use of the help provided by Abalimi to provide for herself, her family and her community. “Be patient and your garden can provide you with money and food, [but] if you don’t love your garden then your garden won’t love you too.”
Abalimi Bezekhaya has been working to improve the lives of people in and around Cape Town for more than three decades, with over 3 000 subsistence farmers working more than 1 000 small food gardens in Western Cape.
HARVEST OF HOPE MARKETING SCHEME
Farmers who produce more food than they need can generate a stable income by selling their harvest to businesses and other community members through the Harvest of Hope marketing scheme.
It is a community-supported agriculture scheme that connects buyers with producers and helps to foster stable relationships between them to help guarantee an outlet for excess produce in return for much-needed funds to sustain their gardens and pay for their day to day expenses.
Buyers, many of them families in Cape Town’s suburbs, order weekly bags of the vegetables, which are delivered to various drop-off points for collection by the buyers. Harvest of Hope contracts with the farmers in advance, guaranteeing to buy their produce and so giving them some income security; buyers order in advance.
“A community garden is organised by a group of people who initially want to put some food on the table and maybe have some ideas of getting some income or jobs,” explained Rob Small, the programme co-director of the organisation. “If people want to progress into the more commercial stage, or bring in a commercial element, we have something called AgriPlanner, which helps people understand how a small business enterprise can work.”
Members of the public who want to get involved should visit the Harvest of Hope Join Us page on its website for more details or take one of the regular tours of some of the gardens.
You can also get in touch with the facilitators of the initiative via email on firstname.lastname@example.org or on 021 371 1653 to find out about other ways for you to join in the life changing work done by the organisation. If you live in Cape Town, consider ordering your weekly basket of vegetables from Harvest of Hope.
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