31 May 2020
By Mduduzi Tshabalala and Karibu! Staff
‘Sthuntsha’ Mokoena is a local horticulturalist (the
practice of gardening for food and/or flowers, etc), based in Zone 11,
Sebokeng. He is a member of the Botle ba Tlhaho Environmental Group (BBTEG).
The BBTEG is a group of unemployed youth volunteers working to establish
household food gardens in the community of Sebokeng.
“Food security is our challenge,” says Mokoena. “Many of the households do not have enough food for the entire month. [So we thought] instead of just selling vegetables like others are doing, let us rather give people the resources to do it [grow vegetables] for themselves. This is a practical way to promote food security in our community.”
Mokoena started food garden installations for households in 2019 with a wheelbarrow of seedlings with different strains of spinach. “My prices start from R10 a wheelbarrow, and my highest charge does not exceed R50. That includes the installation of a food garden,” he says. “This is a much needed project to help households survive hunger.”
Mokoena gets about four clients a week for garden installations. “I mostly use an old vehicle tyre, put soil in it, then place the seedlings in there, watering the space to use before and after,” he says. “BBTEG helped us get the seeds from a few organisations, but sometimes we buy the seeds ourselves. We also recycle food, and plant from the vegetable waste we collect from the local street vendors.”
Mme Masilo is a neighbour living in Zone 10 Ext. 2 in Sebokeng, not far from Mokoena’s garden. “I am more than happy to have this food garden installed,” she says, smiling. “We grew up loving working in the gardens, watering spinach and other vegetables. But here with the urban life, we’re just used to buying food instead of growing it ourselves,” she added.
Mokoena pointed out that climate change is exacerbating the food crisis and causing huge challenges for crop irrigation. “We use one of the nearby household’s tap water to irrigate our food garden,” he said. “We are still hoping for ground water installations and to use the borehole water, but the costs may range from R60 000 upwards. This is a lot of money and we cannot afford it,” he added.
Regarding BBTEG, Mokoena says, “We work with people who are volunteers but every time they get better opportunities, they leave. This is a challenge for an organisation that has to see progress. Most of our work is supported by NGOs, although we do get a bit of the support from our local government. For instance, the land use permission was granted through our Local Ward Councilor after a long battle of getting this to work and using the Spatial Land Use Management Act (SPLUMA).”
This article was submitted on 22 May 2020. You may republish this article, so long as you credit the authors and Karibu! Online (www.Karibu.org.za), and do not change the text. Please include a link back to the original article.