Maverick Citizen

Food Justice


Photo essay: Maverick Citizen Food Garden Competition

The women of a Retreat community in Cape Town have started a food garden to help feed residents. (Photo: Moriedah Dien)

Maverick Citizen ran a food garden competition in October 2021 to mark World Food Day but also to spotlight the issue of food sovereignty and how communities can come together to ensure that people have healthy and nutritious food.

During the Covid-19 crisis many non-profit organisations have kept communities fed through these food gardens, particularly during hard lockdown when people lost jobs and could not afford to go out and buy food. 

We received many worthwhile and innovative entries for our competition and our winner is Molala Anna from Limpopo who not only has a food garden but also makes healthy and nutritious products from her crop for her community. She wins R5,000 to grow her food garden! This is what she had to say

Molala Anna started backyard gardens in Zebediela Makweng, Limpopo after realising that people in her community were living in distress as a result of poverty. (Photo: Molala Anna)

“I am from Zebediela Makweng, Limpopo and started backyard gardens after I realised that people are living with distress, poverty, gender-based violence. Then I started volunteering for home community care, and advertised gardens and how to save water and seeds. Now my community is living happily, not spending much money to buy vegetables and other planted herbs from my garden. When I sell vegetables to the community I mix in some herbs like celery, fennel, dill and parsley to boost their immune systems and get healthy food. I also do food processing using my vegetables, chilli sauce, vegetable achar and marmalade jam from lemons. I also sell dried spinach and mustard.

Below are the other worthy entries we received. 

Moriedah Dien: We are an organisation in Cape Town – Oboe Street, Retreat, behind Delta Primary School – that is part of the feeding scheme. We have now started a little food garden to help with resources as it is a challenge at times to cook as resources are limited. Our volunteers take care of the garden.

Volunteers at LeanoAgri grow food for the people of Alexandra, Johannesburg and run a programme teaching young people the value of farming. (Photo: Nomsa Ncube)

LeanoAgri: Based in Marlboro, Johannesburg, we service the Alexandra community and surrounds. We teach our people self-sustainability and entrepreneurial skills, and we run a youth programme to teach our young people how fun and beneficial farming is, and how to fend for themselves. It is also a form of therapy – most of them are from vulnerable and child-headed homes. Farming is indeed the future and our people need to know this and understand it. 

Paballo Tshabalala says that at her initiative in Alexandra, Johannesburg they grow their crops in containers to preserve water and use drip irrigation. (Photo: Paballo Tshabalala)

Paballo Tshabalala: It is a container garden with mixed cropping. We use containers to preserve water. In most cases, we use 2l bottles for dripping irrigation. We also use manure and we sell to the communities in need and donate to vulnerable households. 

Terisita Nicholson’s pavement garden is called Creating Eden For All and is based in Plumstead, Cape Town. It was started by pensioners and feeds mostly elderly people. (Photo: Terisita Nicholson)

Terisita Nicholson: I started a pavement garden in Plumstead, Cape Town with the help of Creating Eden for All, a local organisation that was started by two pensioners. They provided the soil and I provided the seedlings, seeds, water and care. Plumstead is an old “railway”, a suburb with mainly elderly residents. My little garden feeds mostly these elderly people, many of whom live alone and on a pension. They come by to pick whatever is ready, which is just enough to feed themselves. There are also a number of workers in the area who travel by train and when passing on their way to the station they pick whatever there is. My beetroot leaves are popular. It is very little, but it produces a fair amount to feed someone for the evening.

The Lavender Hill Community Action Network feeding kitchen has been going for two years and feeds 200 people every day. (Photo: Mark Nicholson)

Lavender Hill Community Action Network feeding kitchen: We have been doing pavement gardens for two years without any proper support, and we do this to support our feeding kitchen to self-sustain. We keep doing it even though feeding 200 people every day is not easy – but we survive and so does our kitchen. Our pavement gardens are in Lavender Hill, Cape Town, where we grow cabbage, carrot and spinach, as well as herbs. DM/MC


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