Garden project generates income

Enjoying wholesome food, Michaela Hawker, Adi Pfaff and Louise Featherstone.

Today is Women’s Day, and we celebrate the women warriors in communities who have found a way to go from being unemployed and hungry to providing healthy garden produce for themselves and their families.

And some have generated an income through the sale of produce, seeds, seedlings and compost.

They are all part of the home-food-garden programme run by Soil for Life.

This non-profit organisation, based in Constantia helps and teaches people to grow healthy, organic, food using simple, low-cost, environmentally-friendly methods.

More than 4 500 people have participated in Soil for Life’s home-food-garden programme since it started in 2009.

Apart from growing their own food, they have gained skills and confidence and, in turn, have helped to improve the nutrition and health of more than 25 000 people.

Natasha Johannes, of Mitchell’s Plain, was diagnosed with cancer in 2015. After two major surgeries, chemotherapy and radiation treatment, she joined the health and well-being programme late last year and learnt more about her health. She subsequently adopted a plant-based diet.

She has researched nettles and green vegetables and is now doing a home food gardening programme with her husband working alongside her.

Eve Weevers, of Delft, started the 12-week home-gardeners training in September last year. Although she and her husband have been into gardening before, she was struggling with the water crisis.

They are now saving every drop of water and using it for their plants and to keep the compost heaps moist during the hot, dry summer.

Hazel Nyabo, of Mfuleni, came to Cape Town from the Eastern Cape last year to look after her grandchild.

She was so impressed with her neighbours’ garden that she underwent training from September to November.

“It has been life changing, and I’ve not only gained organic-vegetable-production knowledge and skills, but have experienced the goodness of harvesting fresh vegetables straight from my garden and enjoy the nutritionally high and tasty vegetables.

“I’m also saving money, which would otherwise normally be spent on vegetables, since I am harvesting from my own garden.

“I also share my surplus with neighbours and extended family,” said Ms Nyabo.

She was the Best New Home Gardener in 2017 and started Soil for Life’s train-the-trainer programme in February and began her first cycle of training and mentoring as an
assistant trainer the following
month.

At its annual general meeting on Friday August 3, Soil for Life board chairperson, Neal Sachs, said they were due to get accreditation from SETA (Skills Education Training Authorities).

“Once accredited, we will be able to unlock more avenues of income generation in addition to enriching our trainers and staff,” he said.

Mr Sachs and Soil for Life founder Pat Featherstone said future plans were to grow their footprint geographically and improve the lives of more people across a wider area.

Ms Featherstone said another goal was to educate the youth.

“With 82% of home gardeners claiming an improvement in health since joining the programme and 76% reporting better relationships with their families and community and an improved sense of well-being, gardening can make a big change in their lives,” she said.

For further details about Soil for Life, call 021 794 4982 or email info@soilforlife.co.za