Urban farmers developing gardening skills

These are some of the community members who are undergoing a training programme in Fish Hoek.

While the effects of Covid-19 continue to ripple through the country, Mandela Park residents are equipping themselves with critical food gardening skills in an attempt to make a living and boost the township economy.

Mandela Park resident, Loyiso Mfuku, who owns Khayelitsha Travel and Tours, a travel agency that provides international tourists with an authentic South African experience, said he was approached by one of his clients who wanted to assist residents during the pandemic.

He said his client runs Ke Nako, a Luxembourg-based NGO that promotes education in South Africa.

Through the NGO, they donated R1 500 each to 63 households in the first round and R500 each to 42 households in the second round so people could buy basic food items.

He wanted the process to be as transparent as possible and he decided that the money should be paid directly into the person’s bank account.

However, he soon realised that people had their own misconception about the money and some confused it with government funds. At times, he said people would gather outside his house demanding answers.

He then realised that this was not sustainable and suggested that they should rather start a community-based project which would be more sustainable; create employment opportunities; and empower residents with critical skills.

Mr Mfuku said they came up with key projects which could be started to easily generate funds.

They agreed that they should begin with a food gardening project in the meantime. Ten members of the community were identified and are undergoing a five-week training programme to become urban farmers through an organisation called Green Guerrillas in Fish Hoek.

He said through the establishment of the food garden they hoped that people would realise the importance of respecting the soil and environment in general.

After they have completed the training, he said they would transfer those skills to other people.

He said their intention was to use the profit generated from this project to reinvest into another project. This, he said, would enable the community to have multiple projects which would play vital role in creating jobs.

“The lockdown has presented an opportunity for the residents to find a new hobby.

“This means that people should see possibilities beyond Covid-19. With hope anything is possible.

“This is also giving us an opportunity to test the will and seriousness as well. We never had this opportunity before. In order for us to have a relationship with the soil, we must dance with the soil. To solve the issues of poverty in Khayelitsha, we need to work not to look for work. This is the beginning of great things to come,” he said.

Mr Mfuku said this should teach the community that they should be producing their own food rather than buying it.

Ms Ntshuntshe said it was critical that residents create alternative ways of living and making an income for their families. In the long run, she said they want this programme to give birth to other programmes in the area and their aim is to create a culture of self employment and dependency.