In August 2020, Seriti Institute launched the “Work.Learn.Grow” programme in the small community of Mfidikoe, situated in the North West province. The programme is a community farming and social enterprise initiative which seeks to create opportunities for agriculture and agribusiness entrepreneurship in low-income communities, focusing especially on women and youth. Through the initiative, Seriti seeks to support sustainable livelihoods and provide people with opportunities, inputs, and training to start their own food gardens, as well as avenues to scale-up activity around viable agri-business opportunities.
Seriti gathered 20 participants from two different communities, namely Mfidikwe and Bokamoso, who have a keen interest in farming and agriculture. The community champion Velile Khoza, found a local school where the training and the communal garden project could begin. Velile recently became a Seriti social partner through our food relief distribution initiative called the C19 Community Response and connected us with the participants on the ground.
“Yes, that day brought help to me and my community members when they distributed food parcels. My life before the program was not well because I was seeing community members who are less fortunate going hungry in the midst of Covid-19” says Velile.
Seriti then engaged with Velile on how they can use the Work.Learn.Grow programme to help the community move from food relief to resilience. Through collaboration with Tim Abaa from Tim Nectar Farms, Seriti ran a weeklong training course with the local participants on how to start their own food gardens. The training was a combination of theory and practical learning. The material covered the phycological mindset around agriculture and farming, learning about organic and inorganic fertilizers (damages and benefits). The difference between Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO’s) vs organic and the combination of culture and Tradition (Tradition is a permanent way of doing things and that’s where permaculture comes from). Each participant was given seedlings and mulch to go start their own gardens at home.
Tragically, the communal garden that the participants planted at the school, burnt down on the 7th of September 2020. This was due to a runaway fire that started at a neighbouring property and spread to the school yard where they had planted their food garden. The fire burnt the mulch and the seedlings/saplings that had begun to sprout.
Velile and the team of participants were heartbroken when they heard what had happened to their food garden. “When I visited our communal garden, I found it burned. The principal told me that someone said he saw the fire and the fire came from the nearby property. A gardener who was working inside the property was burning the grass that he was busy removing than afterwards burned it until it burns the ground grass at the school. My heart is broken.”
Despite the sad loss, Velile and the team are still very determined to bring their garden back to life and restore the damage that has been done. “I hope God will grant me and the team a power and spirit to work it until it Greens again. God granted us hope before we started this and we will work our garden with faith and power of success from God.”
Velile also has his own aspirations for joining the “Work.Learn.Grow” programme. “My goal was to learn how to eliminate poverty and hunger in my community. My future is looking bright since I’m really looking forward to produce food healthily.”
If anyone would like to support the Mfidikoe team with resources and inputs to rebuild their food gardens please contact Seriti Institute at 011 262 7700 or email [email protected] .
To find out more about Seriti Institute’s Work.Learn.Grow programme, please visit https://seriti.org.za/programmes/work-learn-grow/
Article by: Dumile Pretty Ndimande