The Kouga Municipality is spearheading an innovative, sustainable urban food garden initiative which plans to convert 30 illegal dumping sites into community Gardens of Hope. The gardens provide valuable nutrition and sustainable livelihoods to local communities.
The Pellsrus organic vegetable garden, once a litter-strewn illegal rubbish dump is now flourishing as a productive, clean and sustainable vegetable garden. Residents of the small struggling community in an impoverished and previously disadvantaged area have witnessed the transformation from unhealthy dumping ground to fertile land now producing healthy organic vegetables.
The vegetable food garden is the brainchild of the Kouga Municipality and has drawn on the support and collaboration of Farming God’s Way, The Humansdorp Co Operasie, Woodlands Dairy, UCSA Jeffreys Bay camp centre, The Bountiful Grains Trust and the Victory4All Foundation.
The Kouga Municipality Go Green, Gardens of Hope programme co-ordinator, Nomvelo Siwela, said that the surrounding community is excited by the transformation and have been inspired to train and equip more community members with the necessary knowledge and skills to grow their own vegetables. The vegetables produced are helping to supplement the local community’s nutrition.
She went on to explain that the Pellsrus organic vegetable garden is “more than just a garden” and provides hope to both the children and adults who pass by.
“Despite where you might be now, with hard work, care and empowering oneself anyone can learn the skills needed to thrive and provide food for their families,” she said.
Nomvelo told of how the Municipality has been supporting a number of vegetable gardens in the disadvantaged communities in the Kouga Municipality. These include the Victory4All King’s College vegetable garden in Oceanview, the Joshua Project Vegetable Garden in Pellsrus, the Wavepoint Church veggie garden in Pellsrus and the Victory4All Rainbow School vegetable garden in Kruisfontein. The Kouga Municipality has been encouraging and supporting these urban vegetable food garden initiatives garden since 2019, with the projects now growing exponentially and producing an abundance of fresh, healthy vegetables.
The food garden is set out on a 60x20m patch of previously degraded illegal dump site land which is now able to produce an abundant array of vegetables and herbs for the community feeding scheme.
The site is also used for training and equipping the community to grow their own home vegetable gardens with a 1mx2m Garden of Faithfulness vegetable garden complete with training material and resources to implement in every home in Pellsrus and the surrounding Kouga Municipal Area.
The surplus crops, including seeds and seedlings are donated to the community.
The Kouga Pellsrus Vegetable Garden of Hope will also provide workshops and offer training and assistance to adjacent community members to implement their own home vegetable gardens.
The principle of alleviating poverty by facilitating self-sufficiency has a long history “We live by the principle of teaching a man to fish in order to sustain himself and his family for a lifetime.” Said Nomvelo.
The community vegetable garden is situated adjacent to a school and the training and mentoring at the vegetable garden encourages learners from schools in the area to learn and grow by sharing their knowledge of Farming God’s Way, food gardening and conservation agricultural resources with local schools and the surrounding community.
The Kouga vegetable gardens intend to become the Pellsrus community’s hub of sustainable intensified crop production knowledge and food production excellence.
The other successful Farming God’s Way community and school vegetable gardens in the Kouga Municipal area have served as critical first line food hubs during Covid-19, providing fresh, organically and locally grown vegetables, herbs and fruit to their communities.
“They are true food heroes at a time when food security is vital for impoverished and hungry communities,” Nomvelo said.
The project gives hope that transforming lives and creating sustainable livelihoods will in turn lead to vibrant healthy communities with a future and a hope in the potential of South Africa.