Members of The Green Net, aware of the economic difficulties of those who had lost their incomes during the national lockdown, decided to assist a church in Umtentweni with their feeding programme. The Vukuzenzele Community Food Garden Project in Louisiana was born.
Why plant community food gardens?
The Vukuzenzele community food gardens came into being during the coronavirus lockdown of 2020. Having set up a few organic food gardens previously (in particular, at Mbambi High School in Gcilima and at Hibiscus Primary School in Margate), we felt that the most sustainable contribution we could make, would be to facilitate the planting of fruit and vegetables in the community. As the adage goes, “give someone a fish and they will eat for a day; teach them how to fish, and they will eat forever”; we believe that food gardens provide a far more sustainable and lasting solution than food packs can. In light of our many economic, social and environmental uncertainties, an abundance of local, clean, healthy food is a great asset and we on the South Coast are blessed with everything we need to achieve this.
To this end, we put together veg garden starter packs (consisting of compost, seedlings and seeds), and handed these out to Louisiana residents in groups of at least four households. This began on May 18th 2020, and today there are about 100 organic growers in the project.
We have been visiting the gardens weekly or bi-weekly (usually Saturdays and Wednesdays), bringing more compost, seeds and information to keep things moving. Other community members, seeing what is happening in the area, have come forward asking to join the project, and it just keeps growing. Project members named it Vukuzenzele (“wake up/ stand up and do it for yourself”).
The recipients of the starter packs have been hard at work, and by the end of 2020 there was over an acre of communal ground under organic vegetables. We continue to canvass donations in order to provide more residents with starter packs, as well as the follow-up that will, indeed, make the venture sustainable.
We endorse and enjoy collaborating with like-minded locals, and our food gardens enjoy the support and expert input of members of organisations such as Thanda, a highly successful teaching programme in Umzumbe, Vuka Valley Eco Centre in Port Edward and weBambu eco-education.
Why support The Green Net’s Vukuzenzele programme?
The programme provides communities with a ‘win-win-win’ opportunity: it benefits each individual in the programme, the community, and the Earth itself. Our teaching and gardening methods are designed to make food gardening ’free of charge’ by the end of the first year: we teach our members to harvest their own seeds, make their own compost and use plants to build up their soil. Where growers have excess food, they often trade within their community; and we assist them further by arranging partnerships with local shops, restaurants and so on, to sell their produce when
We also introduce communities to ‘broader’ environmental matters, teaching and encouraging the removal of Alien Invasive Plants (AIPs), reforestation and indigenous tree planting, and nurturing pollinators and other animals in our environment.
There is every reason to expect requests for help from many more communities and organisations across the region, in the months and years ahead, and we need financial assistance to be able to do this. Based on our experiences over the past six months, we have calculated the following annual budget for community gardens:
Budget per five groups of four families (total 20 families), over one year (R2,785 per family per annum)
The Green Net input Cost : R10,000
Initial veg garden starter pack 150 x 5 750
Second veg garden starter pack 150 x 5 750
Follow-up compost & seeds 450 x 5 2,250
1 fruit tree 150 x 5 750
Basic tools eg gedja, panga, spade; basic irrigation where possible
Specialist training: AIPs and organic gardening
The Green Net fee: weekly mentoring, social media, local marketing (incl. sales) & admin 50 weeks x R900 = R45,000
Thank you for your interest and efforts
THE GREEN NET NPC Registration number 2020/119724/08
First National Bank (FNB) Business account 62862122985