Food Basket for Africa assists disadvantaged communities to set up organic gardens and micro-farming projects which provide nutrition as well as income generation.
Agriculture accounts for only four per cent of domestic product in South Africa (Farmer’s Weekly May 2007). Yet without adequate food the whole economy is under threat. Presently food prices are on the rise with impoverished families, who are already struggling to make ends meet and who constitute the majority of the population being the most affected. Problems of food security are exacerbated by high levels of unemployment, despite an expanding economy in South Africa. What has been termed “Jobless Growth”, a phenomenon not restricted to South Africa, means that despite growths in GDP, unemployment and inequality remain high.
Hope remains, however, in a recent movement towards grassroots, organic-friendly community farming among rural farmers. This trend involves thousands of people (themselves from impoverished backgrounds), who are mobilising to defeat food insecurity and create jobs in the process. Leading examples are the Vukuzenzela Urban Farmers Association (VUFA) in Cape Town, the Master Farmers Association (MFA) in the Eastern Cape and the Western Cape Ubuntu Farmers Association (WEKUFU).
Organic agriculture (including permaculture and ‘food gardens’), in its elementary form, is easily implemented within impoverished communities and those in Survival and Subsistence Levels of socioeconomic status. It promotes sustainability and conserves soil fertility, promotes on-farm biological and seed diversity, and respects indigenous ecosystems and knowledge. This type of farming is also spontaneously community building and labour intensive with “human scale technology”, yet in the long term, its productivity equals industrial outputs with fewer expenses. Furthermore, there is evidence that organic food provides superior nutrition, with positive health implications for farmers, their families and customers.
FBFA works to promote and implement organic bio-dynamic agriculture with the aim of improving food security and employment in disadvantaged communities in South Africa, and Africa in general.
Recently, we have adopted a “training garden” approach whereby we use successful garden projects as training centres. “Training gardens” are established within communities to teach basic gardening skills. Each participant is also given a “garden starter pack” of compost/fertilizer and mix of 36 vegetable seedlings, sufficient to start a garden of 1m x 2m. This size garden can supplement the nutritional needs of a family of four people.
Organic Food Gardens provide:
The Basic Garden Design on the “door model” (1m x 2m)
- Soil preparation and composting
- Companion planting and pest control
- Seed germination
- The importance of water saving
- We are now including a component which stresses the need for monetary savings so as to support sustainability
The gardens are also our outreach to the local community, and we bring our various disciplines, such as counselling, men’s development, and art, using mediums such as films and lectures. This will make our training gardens as Community Centres and add value to the community they serve.
Monitoring and Evaluation
Each garden records participants who attend initial training sessions in a register which enables follow-up contact. Having received ‘starter packs’ at training, participants are contacted and visited to ascertain whether a home garden has been started. Participants themselves also maintain contact with the garden through follow-up training sessions. All contact is recorded and evaluated in a monthly report supplied to our head office support team. Evaluation reports are then generated from these.
Apart from impact in local communities, we also evaluate and monitor our trainers. We hold twice annual workshops with trainees from various gardens at which challenges and successes are discussed. These trainers are our local links into the communities and we provide them with on-going support and regular information.