Improving access to nutritious food, food gardens are an excellent and widely adopted method for providing food to disadvantaged communities in South Africa, and around the world.
According to Suzanne Ackerman, director of transformation at major local supermarket chain, Pick n Pay, while community food gardens play an important role in ensuring that residents have a sustainable food supply, they also create opportunities for people to take ownership of improving their own long-term health and wellbeing.
“Food gardens are an opportunity for environmental education. They help people understand waste management and sustainable urban farming and diversity as well as community engagement – and the ultimate goal, which is to turn a garden into a small enterprise,” she says.
Pick n Pay itself supports 242 community food gardens around South Africa, producing fresh fruits and vegetables for over 4 600 people.
The key to a successful food garden is community buy-in and commitment to the long-term success of the project.
A number of organisations work with Pick n Pay to teach communities how to go about establishing a food garden and how to keep them going over time. They also aim to teach people the basics of healthy eating and cooking so that they can get the most out of the food they produce.
Partners in the food garden project include organisations like Food Basket for Africa, The Siyazisiza Trust, Grahamstown Area Distress Relief Association (GADRA), Mhani Gingi Social Business Development (GSBD), Feeding the Nation and Humana People to People.
Some communities succeed in growing their gardens to such an extent that they are able to create their own enterprise from the produce. The Denzhe Mukulao organisation, in a remote area of Limpopo started as a community garden and now supplies the Thohoyandou Family Store with spinach, cabbage, butternut and onions weekly. Amata Trading, another community garden in Limpopo has also grown into a small supplier of butternut, cabbage and tomatoes to the Giyani Family Store.
Break down of Pick n Pay Food Gardens in SA:
Western Cape 63
KwaZulu Natal 111
Northern Cape 20
Eastern Cape 25
Current known home gardens that have been established by some of the participants in community gardens:
Edith Stevens 12