Win with veggies

2019-06-19 06:00
The Phahamang Basadi Community Gardens’ founders and the Boitlamo Secondary School feeding scheme workers are from the left Ginette Ramabodu (feeding scheme), Selina Lethopo, Julia Maoke, Meriam Mokgatla, Elizabeth Tshobeka, Maria Vetezo (feeding scheme) and Hester Bekeer. Photo: Supplied

The Phahamang Basadi Community Gardens’ founders and the Boitlamo Secondary School feeding scheme workers are from the left Ginette Ramabodu (feeding scheme), Selina Lethopo, Julia Maoke, Meriam Mokgatla, Elizabeth Tshobeka, Maria Vetezo (feeding scheme) and Hester Bekeer. Photo: Supplied

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Five women from the Tumahole township in Parys are reaping the rewards of hard work to run a small-scale vegetable project.

It is called Phahamang Basadi Food Garden. It means “women rise up”.

The founders are Selina Lethopo, Julia Maoke, Meriam Mokgatla, Elizabeth Tshobeka and Hester Bekeer.

They found a niche market thanks to the quality of their produce.

Part of the reward was an opportunity to participate in this year’s Checkers’ Market Day held in April. They managed to sell their vegetables to a broader customer base.

“It was a scary moment to sell our produce at a well-known store such as Checkers,” said Mokgatla.

Participation in the Checkers’ Market Day was an opportunity to grow this project which has become a life-line for the locals in providing fresh and affordable vegetables. The project also provides for the learners’ feeding scheme.

They started the project two years ago, in May 2017. It operates from the premises of the Boitlamo Secondary School.

The garden has been a real game-changer for the people of Tumahole. Many of them are unemployed. They no longer spend extra money on travelling long distances to stock up on healthy food at established retailers.

As is the case with most good things, getting Phahamang Basadi to where it is has been no mean feat.

However, thanks to the support of Shoprite and a team of strong and dedicated women driving the project, none of the challenges were too big to overcome. Shoprite – through its partner, Food and Trees for Africa (FTFA) – supplied them with gardening tools and seedings.

According to Mokgatla, one of the challenges was the objection to their idea by local institutions, schools and a clinic. It was seen as not viable and too costly.

Mokgatla said the idea finally came to fruition after Boitlamo’s management granted them permission to utilise a piece of available land.

Against all odds, these women are now bettering the lives of others through the garden.

The retailer and FTFA are in the process of installing rain tanks and repairing a broken borehole pump.

Mokgatla believes know­ledge gained from their parents, who worked on farms, and common understanding by the five of them have been fundamental to the success of the vegetable garden.

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