The International Medical Services for Health South Africa (INMED SA) is helping 2500 struggling households in South Africa to plant their own backyard gardens by providing them with free seeds, training and assistance to ensure that their gardens and families thrive.
INMED SA is a non-profit international development organization that creates pathways for disadvantaged children and families to achieve self-reliance and success. Their Seeds for Life campaign will also reach out to schools in poverty-stricken areas to hand out seed packs so they can start their own food gardens at home with support from their parents and guardians.
According to a press statement, INMED SA launched the campaign to help struggling households plant home gardens at a time when increasing levels of hunger due to poverty and severe climate events, now exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic, are pushing many vulnerable families in South Africa deeper into poverty and starvation.
The campaign has been launched on the Global Giving platform and the INMED SA website, calling for donations to provide free seeds and training to families on the brink of starvation, with future assistance to ensure that the gardens and families thrive.
According to Dr Sandra Pretorius, programme director for INMED’s Health in Action programme, food security begins in the backyard. “Home and community gardens are a simple solution to improve access to nutritious food,” she says.
“Our team has nearly two decades of experience helping individuals, schools and communities implement adaptive agriculture projects to strengthen food security and build sustainable livelihoods in all types of environments.”
INMED’s Seeds for Life project has many potential long-term impacts, including improved physical and mental health leading to a reduction in preventable lifestyle diseases as well as financial savings.
“Our approach in this campaign is to use children as change agents,” says Pretorius. Schools that are already part of INMED SA’s programmes will identify learners to receive seed packs to start a food garden at their homes with support from parents and guardians. “We are selecting households with the most need from the communities we work in,” she adds.
INMED SA is also working with seed companies, such as Sakata, to support this initiative. “If support for the campaign grows, and we receive enough donations, we will be able to roll out the programme to other provinces in our footprint too,” says Pretorius.
The first phase of Seeds for Life will focus on raising R250 000 to support 2 500 households in Johannesburg (Diepsloot, Cosmo City, Soweto and Orange Farm) and Port Elizabeth (Kwa-Zakhele, Zwide, Motherwell and Northern areas).
The seeds will be packaged in small compostable paper bags, with enough to plant five different crops for summer and later winter gardens. INMED SA also will provide training material and demonstrations.
“It is an ambitious plan, but we believe it is achievable,” concludes Janet Ogilvie, Operations Manager for INMED South Africa. “Our Health in Action programme sponsor, Mondelēz International Foundation, has already donated the first 250 packs and is challenging other companies to do the same.”