For Mandela Day last year, Cape Winelands Biosphere Reserve joined ChangeAbility and Taquanta Investment Holdings in installing vegetable gardens at five homes belonging to people with disabilities in Kayamandi. The partnership continued with four more on-site workshops throughout the year, with the latest one taking place past Wednesday. Here knowledge, victories, and overcoming the challenges in growing a food garden in conditions which seem at first not possible were shared.
An ongoing programme in Cape Winelands Biosphere, is to educate and empower people to maintain home-grown foods and make use of their surrounding area at home, whether it is sparse of water or space. This programme focuses on sustainable food security, nutrition for healthy living, being water-conscious, and community involvement. CWBR has been running workshops and talks and through this programme actively exchanged and shared knowledge.
Taquanta, for their 64 minutes on Mandela Day, approached ChangeAbility in 2018 to sponsor the Kayamandi food garden community project for people with disabilities. ChangeAbility, a non-profit organization who pioneer programmes to encourage more inclusive communities for people with disabilities, brought together a big team of helpers from Taquanta and approached CWBR to run the first horticultural workshop of their programme.
The initial workshop was received so well that the programme was extended from two follow up workshops over two months to four follow up workshops and three additional visits throughout 2018 ensuring additional intervention in the gardens, sustainability of the project, and ongoing support to the community until they have a self-sustainable food-producing garden.
Each garden, with its own environment, came with its own advantages and challenges for each participant. From learning to utilize small spaces and up-cycling of waste materials to having potential for a large garden on grassy hills once the area has been prepared once more seedlings were populated from the initial planting. The support network among the families offered a great opportunity to share knowledge and experiences in their different gardens, to share among themselves and their community in assisting each other and overcoming physical disadvantages.
Both the volunteers and participants were surprised to find out that not much is needed to build and grow a food garden. The project started off with up-cycled material including wooden planting boxes, buckets, ice-cream tubs, newspaper, compost, and lots of seed produced by CWBR hub ranging from beans, spinach, tomatoes, beetroot, squash, and even potatoes. These were plants requested by the group.
Volunteers working to the gardens throughout the four workshops
On each visit, there was sharing of ideas and support among the gardeners and CWBR and volunteers. One garden with its first round, did exceptionally well, and produced an abundance seedling. These were shared with the ones who did not have such good fortune with their seedlings at the start. Veggies have also been shared among the neighbors and one of the homes has started a small tree nursery.
On this last visit, it was evident that the heat, drought, and water restrictions had affected the productivity of the gardens over the Christmas period. However, this is not a setback, but a learning experience for everyone. Each garden has been provided with additional compost, seedlings, mulch, and more planting materials to kickstart their garden again in the next workshop.
We look forward to our next visit and am thankful for the partnership with ChangeAbility and the sponsorship from Taquanta Investment Holdings.