'It is a humongous task' - Growing gardens on the Cape Flats to help feed thousands

Young and old work on their community garden.
Young and old work on their community garden.
Bonteheuwel Community Forum
  • The Bonteheuwel Development Forum was leading a community garden programme to supply 34 feeding schemes in Cape Town's vulnerable areas.
  • Street committees saw a huge increase in mouths to feed since lockdown.
  • Over two hectares of land at schools, churches and homes was being prepared to meet the demand for food.

Henrietta Abrahams yawns as she explains what backbreaking work it is preparing over two hectares of land that can be farmed to help feed thousands of hungry people across the Cape Flats.

"It is a humongous task. We have been feeding between 45 000 and 50 000 people per week," she says.

"The longer we go on lockdown, the more need there is because so many people have lost their jobs."

Abrahams, who is chair of the Bonteheuwel Development Forum, explains that they had 34 feeding schemes running before the Covid-19 pandemic. 

These are run by street committees in the area. They work in partnership with street committees in Langa, Mitchells Plain, Khayelitsha and Manenberg.

READ | UIF Covid-19 payouts extended into August

"Every street committee has a list of those in need. We also now have a list of people who are too proud to stand in line so we can drop off at their house.

"Things are worse under lockdown. Casual workers were the first to go. The hospitality industry has been decimated, call centres have retrenched people who can't work from home, factories have retrenched.

Drug habits

"Social grants are too little. Sometimes Sassa grant money is also being used to support drug habits."

The feeding schemes have relied on the goodwill of individuals, former residents and ex-pats for donations.

But to ensure food security, the forum was leading a campaign to set up community gardens. The block with the best community garden won a 100 litre cooking pot and a gas stove for their kitchen.

READ | Happiness levels in SA took a dive after alcohol ban reimposed, says study

"Our gardens are at schools, private houses in their backyards, churches. We supply whatever we can, such as seed and compost."

Some plots were big and had to be dug up to remove buried concrete.

The plan is to plant a variety of vegetables. Although, Abrahams says fruit trees would be lovely too.

"Where other people self-isolated and rested and had webinars, we have just been out on the street, making masks, finding out what people's needs are and gardening."

The forum is looking for more land to plant on, as well as assistance with fencing, Jo Jo tanks and irrigation.

Anyone interested in assisting, can Whatsapp Abrahams on 076-378-3842.

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