For more than two years now, we having been providing 100 impoverished families from the Zenzele informal settlement with a monthly food hamper worth R450. This is obviously a great gesture but on closer examination it begs the question: “Are we really helping these families?”. What if we took the R45,000 and each month, invested it in a project that will eventually benefit the entire community of Zenzele and not just 100 families? This is the idea behind our Community Vegetable Gardening project – “don’t give them fish, give them the rod to catch fish”.
Oliver’s Village rests on 11 acres of property. Our organic farm and food forest utilises 6 acres. We have sectioned off one acre to be used as the community vegetable garden. We are pleased to inform you that we have already cleared the ground, laid the irrigation and planted a cover crop. Just before the cover crop flowers we will dig it back into the soil to revitalise it. By September of this year we will be ready to start the project.
The mechanics of the project are:
- Divide the one acre property into twenty smaller gardens;
- allocate the twenty gardens to twenty households from the Zenzele community;
- provide each family with all the necessary vegetable gardening tools such as spades, forks, watering cans etc;
- teach these families how to grow and maintain a vegetable garden.
The training course will last for one vegetable season – approximately four months. Training will include all aspects of vegetable gardening from the proper preparation of soil to the proper harvesting of the vegetables. All the vegetables grown will be for the family’s consumption. On completion of the training course each family will be given a complete set of gardening tools and a vegetable seed starter pack. These families will take the skills they have learned back to their community and start their own vegetable gardens at home. We will continue to provide these families with backup assistance. The next twenty families are now ready to start their training course.
Food security is almost non-existent in any informal settlement. After two or three years more than 100 families from the Zenzele community will have learned the proper skills of vegetable gardening. After five years we will have a community that is less reliant on food handouts. Our Community Vegetable Gardening project has three objectives:
- teaching the Zenzele community a basic skill – vegetable gardening;
- teaching the Zenzele community to become self-sufficient;
- teaching the community how to manage their food security requirements.