Mandlakazi food security project
In April 2019, we visited Manyoni Private Game Reserve’s western boundary communities with donor Olivier Van Walsem to show him the projects we are currently involved in. While at the Inkukukaya Chicken project at a local homestead, Oliver showed interest in the community’s agricultural presence. Many homesteads have a small maize field or fruit trees – so people are growing food – but not necessarily very well.
We quickly realised with the right training and infrastructure we could start something great. This sparked the idea to introduce food gardens into the community to secure food production. So, we got in touch with the African Conservation Trust (ACT) who had successfully completed projects like this in neighbouring communities.
It was decided that we would introduce nutrient-rich food gardens into the three creches in our community creche support project – ideal additions to the diets of growing children. We broke ground at Mbuzeli crèche first. A 10m x 15m plot was marked out and permaculture training began with 10 community members led by the ACT team.
Members worked hard to plough the land and prep it into beds for the seedlings, fencing off the area to keep it safe from goats and other animals. Drainage swales were dug by hand to direct runoff from roads into newly planted fruit trees. Being our largest crèche, Mbuzeli also received a new container kitchen to assist with the prepping of meals as their current kitchen was off-site.
We battled with access to running water in the beginning due to low rainfall. Thankfully Manyoni lodges, Luthuli and Mavela, stepped in to by keeping the JoJos full which saw us through the dry winter. We are looking at installing a tap inside the crèche to assist with water availability as the closest tap only receives water three times a week.
The next crèche to receive a food garden was Sekane community’s uBhejane crèche. Once again, we hired 10 community members to assist with the clearing of the land and preparing beds for seedlings. These individuals were also trained in permaculture methods, and taught which plants thrive in their soil and conditions. Having this knowledge enables the community to plant wisely with the limited water and type of soil they have. Banana, mango, granadilla and num nums were planted around the fences of the crèche. With access to a good water supply, this garden has thrived from day one. We also supplied the crèche with a rocket stove, a much more fuel-efficient fire substitute. This stove also uses less wood and produces a warmer flame.
The last crèche to receive their food garden proved to be our trickiest as the soil was extremely rocky. In the end, we had to bring in the TLB to dig and move heavy rocks as this was too much labour for our small team! The entire garden has been built on top of the ground by packing rocks together to wall-in beds and bringing in top soil for the seedlings. This is an extremely impressive garden and a true work of art, hats off to project manager Zimisele from ACT and the community members who worked hard to toil the land.
While we had heavy machinery on site, we used it to dig deep swales to direct runoff on the roads, a pond which can feed water into the gardens and move large rocks to act as a barrier against rain. We will plant the seedlings in the new year, but have placed four JoJo tanks under the roof to capitalise on the rainfall in December.
Once our last crèche is completed, phase one of the project will conclude: to act as a testament to the communities of permaculture farming. Our hope is to expand on community farming methods and strengthen existing produce. In turn we hope to ultimately set these communities up to look at trading with lodges inside Manyoni and benefiting financially from this. Watch this space for our progress!
Funding and guidance has been managed from donors in the Nederlands, and an organisation called Roots-Up has been created to support and document the progress of this project. What was started in 2019, is quickly growing into a much larger project in implementing sustainable farming methods in a larger area over a prolonged time. We are very proud to be working in partnership with Manyoni Private Game Reserve and these incredible organisations in providing long lasting food security to rural communities in need.
If you would like to contribute towards this project by donating, time, funds or expertise, please do not hesitate to get in touch on firstname.lastname@example.org