Farming that benefits the youth and the community

2019-05-09 06:00
Nonkwanda Nkqayi with some young people working in the garden.PHOTO: UNATHI OBOSE

Nonkwanda Nkqayi with some young people working in the garden.PHOTO: UNATHI OBOSE

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What started as something to put food on the table to feed their families, now has expanded and is well known to Khayelitsha at large. Siyazama Food Gardening in Makhaza was started by 30 unemployed women in 1997 just to support their families but now the project is catering to everyone in need.

Even though it is left with only five members, it still has great impact in the community. One of its members Nokwanda Nkqayi described agriculture as a challenge that needs a lot of effort. “There were bushes all over the place. We went to the City to ask for the land for gardening. We had to cut the bushes and Abalimi Bezekhaya came on-board to assist us with fencing, and later trained us in basic skills gardening,” said Nkqayi, adding that the organisation monitored them for two years and after that let them work on their own. She said some of the members were relocated to Eastern Cape as they were not permanently from the province.

Nkqayi said their members are between the ages of 42 and 72 years old.

“We do need young people to join us so that we can have people we will leave behind when we retire. We used to have learners who are coming for practicals here but we don’t have them anymore now,” said Nkqayi.

She said some of the vegetables that they are planted are carrots, beetroot, spinach, corn, spring onions, cabbage, potatoes and broccoli.

She said they have their own farmer’s market where they sell them.

“We sell it in schools, restaurants, hotels and to the community. We do donate some of our production to sick people,” she said, adding that they have relationship with some of local clinics where they refer them to those in need families.

Nkqayi described their vegetable as organic. “We don’t use chemicals, only compost,” she said. She added that some of their challenges are not having enough bore holes and electricity. “The R200 electricity lasts for only two days and we have to buy it now and then if we want to work.” She appealed to anyone who can help them with tank water, which will be appreciated. One of the young people who is assisting on the gardening, Sihle Skenjana, 22, said he went there to familiarise himself with the gardening. “I’m accepted by Elsenburg Agricultural Training Institute in Wellington. I’ll start January next year. So by working here I just need an experience and to familiarise with it,” he said. Skenjana said he grew up doing farming at Cofimvaba in Eastern Cape and he later fell in love with it.

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