18
Apr
10

Food Gardens, Food Gardens, Food Gardens, Food Gardens

As a homeopath/acupuncturist I feel I could not make a dent in the ‘dis-ease’ in the community.  I decided to close down my community clinic and link up with a Sekuyasa, a Home Based Care organization that operates in KwaMbila.   My intention was to become involved with food gardens for vulnerable households. Two weeks after  I expressed this intention,  the ZCSD offered me the opportunity to organize 300 people from the government’s Community Works Project to do work that would better the community.

The first thing to do when something involves the community is to meet with my Induna (the community leader that is the mediator between the community and the chief ) I  met with my Induna  straight away and he was very happy about the opportunity that has been offered to the people. The work opportunity involves 8 days work per month at R50 per day.He took me to meet Councilor Jerry Zikhali who has been involved in community work in this area. Councilor Zikhali was happy to hear about the way we intend to use these work opportunities and has helped me to arrange meetings with Indunas of the neigbouring areas that will be involved in the program. The respective Indunas have called tribal meetings under trees and in community halls and we have enrolled most of the people that we need.

On the 15th of April 2010 the first group met to start making compost. I visited some homesteads  and was so excited that people were enthusiastically helping in their group member’s gardens.

The breakdown of the project:

  1. Home Based Food Gardens  (220 people)

Food gardens  to be established at about 400 homesteads. Community members are divided into groups of 4. During the first month the group members take turns to have the other 3 group members help them get their food gardens going (composting, preparing beds and seedling making once seed arrives).  The second month the team members will select vulnerable households and start establishing food gardens for them.  The months will then alternate one month in the group member’s gardens, one month in the vulnerable household gardens. Some time (+- 1/6th of the time) will also be spent cleaning up public spaces like schools or clinics.

2.     School Assistance and Community Cleanup:

Two teams i.e. 48 people have been allocated as school assistants.  I had a meeting with the principles of the schools where we are hoping to place the school assistants.  We explored the possibility of doing ‘how to make cuttings’ classes with the children with some of the branches that are going to be cut down at the cashew nut farm in the surrounding area.  Some of the principals seemed keen to do food gardens. I explained that I am over my quota for tool packs and seeds but if the principals could provide seed and tools we could work together towards establishing food gardens at the schools.  Assistants would also be required to do cleanups and tasks e.g. fire breaks round schools.

  1. Home Based Care:

Two teams (48 people) have been placed under Sekuyaza – the local home based care project. This will incorporate the 21 Home Based Care (HBC)  workers that are currently working in their project.  The idea is to train the new  people to become  HBC workers. We are exploring training opportunities for them.   In the mean time the workers will help the trained home base care workers in general tasks like cooking and cleaning for people who cannot do it themselves and introduce food gardens where people are receiving food parcels. The food parcels include maize meal, sugar, salt, cooking oil, candles, soap and other basics. Vegetables would significantly improve the nutritional status of these people.

Tools and seed are to be provided by the ZCSD, but are not to be expected before mid June.  So far community members have organized their own tools and I think we are going to get quite a good starter batch of veggy and herb seeds posted in by my Facebook friends and Sodwana locals.  I am keenly awaiting 10 packets of unusual food seed from an organization called ECHO. http://www.echonet.org/content/whatWeDo

I hope that the gardens can be inspired by permaculture principles. It is my understanding that 24  people from the project will have the opportunity to do a permaculture design course through the Zululand Center for Sustainable Development.   I am interested to see how the people involved with the project interpret and incorporate these principles into their own style of self sufficiency.

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Twitter Updates

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