It is rare to see a perfectly manicured garden in Makhaza, however, Moneleli Ruka is proud of the beautiful greenery in his garden, which greets those who pass by his Kuhle Street home.
Pointing out that poverty, malnutrition and hunger are some of the greatest challenges faced by society, Mr Ruka, a subsistence farmer, says people must learn to live off the land.
In Mr Ruka’s yard, he has vegetables as well as fruit trees, which he cultivates to feed himself and his family.
When Vukani visited him, he was busy in his garden, where he also has a worm farm which he uses to break down organic waste and create rich compost to feed the soil.
He said he started gardening in an effort to eradicate poverty and ensure food security.
He said it was easy to grow vegetable and eat better.
“People need to get up and smell the coffee. Things are expensive out there. All people have to do is use the land they have, little as it may be.
“There are old tyres to use, buckets and many other alternatives to make a garden. But it needs regular watering,” he said.
He said poverty will remain a problem if people do not make good use of the land they have.
“No matter where you live, you can do something. We cannot rely on the government for everything we need. Let us use the land at least,” he said.
And his labour of love is bearing fruit. He has cabbage, spinach, bananas, guavas and many other fruit and vegetables.
He said he drove around the neighbourhood encouraging people to start food gardens, but his calls seem to have fallen on deaf ears as no one yet has taken up his challenge.
”But I have tried to encourage them. I have taken my passion to the local clinic here. I have a nice garden and beautiful flowers at the clinic,” he said.
In the meantime, he said, he is not being affected by the food price increase at all.
“With what we are facing, high prices in everything, people will soon realise they have land to plant. I would be happy to help where I can. I will be more happy when they start gardens to feed themselves,” he said.
It is hard work, though, he warns. And it requires love. “This needs passion too. It must be taken care off all the time. But it is do-able.”