South Africa

Residents benefiting from food gardens

An estimated 4 310 Cape Town residents are now benefiting directly from 140 food gardens project in the City.

The project is a key element of the Social Development and Early Childhood Development Directorate’s Poverty Alleviation and Reduction Programme. At the heart of the project is identifying community food gardens in need of assistance and providing training and resources to help make the gardens more sustainable.

It has grown from supporting 42 food gardens in 2013 to 90 in 2014, and since February this year an additional 30 new food gardens have been established. An estimated 3 050 residents are benefiting from the food harvested in these gardens.

In 2014, the project scope was broadened to incorporate City-owned Early Childhood Development Centres. Food gardens are in various stages of development at 20 of the 24 ECDs and are set to benefit an estimated 1 260 children.

‘Hunger is a reality for many people in our society and that is why we decided to pursue the idea of building sustainable community food gardens. Not only does this project provide a source of food, but it also opens the possibility of a revenue stream for those involved, improves the nutritional options for the beneficiaries, and of course helps communities become more independent and self-sustaining. It is imperative to change our narrative from a hand-out to a hand up and food gardens are a simple way of achieving this shift in focus,’ said the City’s Mayoral Committee Member for Social Development and Early Childhood Development, Councillor Suzette Little.

‘We’ve seen numerous successes where food gardens have started selling their produce to the surrounding community. The biggest success story is the Mamre food garden which has started selling its produce to the Food Bank and is also in negotiations with a well-known retailer. There are still a number of challenges, including a lack of space for establishing gardens at some of our ECD centres. There have also been a few cases where community members have not been willing to assist with the food gardens unless they receive a stipend. This is rather unfortunate, because the medium- to long-term benefits could comfortably outstrip the short-term need for remuneration and it is an indication that we do still have some way to go to instil that bigger-picture mind-set,’ added Councillor Little.

For any challenges the Social Development and Early Childhood Development Directorate is considering various alternatives, including teaming up with other sponsors and organisations. A working group comprised of relevant departments within the City of Cape Town will be established for this purpose.