In 1992, social workers Anne and Peter Templeton visited Goedgedacht farm in Malmesbury in the Western Cape, hoping it would be the perfect place to break away from the hustle and bustle of city life.
They were instead drawn into finding solutions for the many social ills this farming community faced at the time. In 1993 the power couple established the Goedgedacht Trust and for the past 26 years they’ve been working tirelessly to transform many rural communities in the province.
The initiative runs 34 projects geared towards developing the participants in the areas of education, health and personal growth, as well as to care for the planet.
According to Mikal Lambert, spokesperson for the Goedgedacht Trust, the organisation prides itself in its long-term interventions. They see it as a marathon, not a sprint, with the aim to provide support for children starting before birth up to 20 years, guiding them into adulthood.
Through the organisation’s Care for the Planet (CftP) programme, more than 2000 rural households are now more food secure. The participants grow their own food in home gardens. CftP raises awareness and action concerning the environment in rural communities.
The project has no age restriction and focuses on the whole family as a unit. Goedgedacht Trust believes that if children see their parents and neighbours grow their own food, they are more likely to do the same as they grow older.
Lambert says that there are many stigmas attached to agriculture, hence their mission to convince the children otherwise.
“Their exposure to farming is simply as agri-workers. The image that they have of farming is not very pleasant. We want to change that image by bringing it back to the household and trying to rebuild the culture around which food production happens,” adds Lambert.
When this project started in 2016, they offered various training workshops on how to grow your own food. Soon they had to take a different approach, because they realised that many participants already had this knowledge. The initiative now provides the home gardeners with seedlings and plants, and they do the rest.
Since then, the number of gardens have more than doubled. The project has grown throughout eleven communities in the Western Cape, including Riebeeck West, Saron and Paarl. Lambert says they want to create a sense of independence among the garden owners.
Magda Leonard (44) from Riverlands started growing her own food in 2017. With her garden, she has been able to feed her family when they have nothing else to eat.
“We harvest every day and eat a mix of beans, spinach, cabbage, carrots and onions, amongst other veggies. Most of the time it happens that we have nothing in the house, then we eat out of the garden. When I get visitors, I share my vegetables,” says the mother of three.
The Goedgedacht Trust wants to develop a stable food system, which also creates another form of income for these households. Lambert explains that the participants have the option to either sell or trade their produce.
For Katrina April (82) her garden is a bittersweet reminder of her son who passed away earlier this year. She grows tomatoes, onions, beetroot and cabbage. April, also from Riverlands, depends on her garden, as she only receives a monthly grant from the government.
“I will never stop planting in my garden, because we eat from it. We started this garden in 2017.” The four tomato plants between her other crops remind her of her late son. “It’s the last of his memory, that’s why I will never stop with my garden,” she says.