Community Gardens Grow Hope in South Africa
A sandy plot in the middle of Khayelitsha, one of Cape Town’s largest townships, does not seem like the ideal place for a garden to thrive. However, sixty-three year old local resident Christina Kaba has made it so. As a matter of fact Christina, along with other local women, has successfully implemented 28 community garden projects in the township which are providing fresh food to the community and even turning a profit. It began with the simple idea of putting food on the tables of the community but has seen unpredicted success due to the desire of people throughout Cape Town to have fresh fruits and vegetables. According to local residents participating in the program, “the community gardens have transformed the area, and the lives of its residents.”
The gardens have grown from a modest supply of fresh produce to the participating members of the project to big business. The gardeners are now selling their harvest to the larger Cape Town market through a program called “Harvest for Hope.” This initiative was set up in 2008 as a way to give small scale township farmers access to viable markets. Demand has grown from a mere 80 orders to 600 orders a week. This demand has created more job opportunities in the local communities. Kaba explains that “we train them, they train the others, we motivate them, they motivate the others, because they are out of poverty.” This cyclical success has been a source of hope for the community that Kaba is proud of.
A short video on a school garden in a township outside of Johannesburg: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g62hF8dgmLg
A link to an organization which supports small farmers in Uganda: http://www.farmafrica.org.uk/smartweb/where-we-work/uganda
An article about a program in Ghana to connect cocoa farmers through mobile technology: http://www.ausfoodnews.com.au/2011/03/18/mobile-phones-link-ghana-cocoa-farmers.html
1. Do you see farming as a catalyst to change lives in your own community? How? Do you think it makes more of an impact for the people described in this article? Why?
2. Can you think of additional ways to bring individuals who farm, craft, or produce other goods to larger markets like the ‘Harvest for Hope’ program? What are the challenges for the low-income and self employed in Africa? How can they be overcome?
3. Is the success of this type of program unique to South Africa? Could it work in other African countries? Why or why not?