Garden uplifts community

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Mookho Pitso, founder of the Hola Le Rona Integrated Educare Centre in Qwaqwa.Photo: Supplied
Mookho Pitso, founder of the Hola Le Rona Integrated Educare Centre in Qwaqwa.Photo: Supplied

Passion to care for young children and create sustainable livelihoods afforded the woman-led Hola Le Rona Integrated Educare Centre in Qwaqwa the much-needed support of one of South Africa’s biggest retailers.

Driven by her passion and love for children, Mookho Pitso founded the centre in 2001.

It has grown to care for 150 children.

The increasing number of children and the socio-economic state inspired Pitso to implement a vegetable garden project in the centre’s yard.

In line with the Shoprite Group’s focus to invest in food security and nutrition in South African communities, the retailer partnered with the centre to ensure the garden’s sustainability.

The retailer came on board in February 2020, providing tools, seedlings, fruit trees and basic training.

The garden helps to supplement the feeding scheme and ensures that the children’s meals are nutritious.

Vegetables like spinach, carrots and beetroot are grown in the garden.

“The training has helped us a lot,” said Pitso.

She still attends the ongoing permaculture workshops meant to increase production.

“We are now able to grow even more vegetables than before. The surplus, which is not used in the children’s meals, is sold to the community to generate an income.”

According to Treasure Mohlape, food garden supervisor, the community loves buying fresh produce directly from the centre.

“As we learn more, we implement changes for the following harvest.”

  • The dream is to sell surplus produce to the retailer. The retailer has been supporting food gardens across South Africa since 2015, and has partnered with more than 130 community-based centres and 675 home gardens. It is believed that more than 32 000 people could benefit through these partnerships.
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