How this community outreach programme is turning dumpsites into food gardens for the disadvantaged

Transformed dump site to garden  (PHOTO:SUPPLIED)
Transformed dump site to garden (PHOTO:SUPPLIED)

Covid-19 has exposed the depth of poverty plaguing South African communities. But even in these turbulent times, there is a glimmer of hope for some disadvantaged people as different initiatives aimed at providing for the less fortunate are in full swing.

Three months ago, just before lockdown, Isizwe Cooperative in Palm Springs, Gauteng, started a project aimed at transforming dumping sites into agri-parks and starting food gardens in community members’ yards.

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Project coordinator Themba Malume says it has encouraged over 50 community members to join this transformative initiative.

Dumpsite before transformation

“We have identified families in the community and record them as beneficiaries. In two weeks, we will harvest, and the plan is to prioritise older persons in our database,” he says. Another goal for the project is to ensure that the youth is provided with agricultural skills too so that they can also start their own gardens and be able to fight poverty and the challenges that come with being unemployed.

Themba says it’s humbling to witness the sense of community, especially as people become devoted to actively making a difference in their own lives. “Most of our beneficiaries have the much-needed farming experience, we rely on community members’ participation. Challenges sparked by the pandemic peddled the courage to get it all started. Currently, we have helped start mini vegetable gardens in 10 homes and we provide transplantation services to individuals with no farming experience at all,” he says.

Food garden transformation

Isizwe believes that people can make a difference in their own lives, no matter how small. With the use of these dumpsites, which are prone to be hotspots for criminals, it means communities become safer too.