At its core, human dignity is greatly dependent on the right to equal access of food. These were the words of the Western Cape minister of agriculture, Dr Ivan Meyer, during the announcement of community gardens across the province.
Speaking in Rietpoort in the Namaqualand region of the West Coast, Meyer said food security is essential for the development of the nation. He visited several vegetable garden projects in the area. “We are encouraging all households to start vegetable gardens. The ability to provide food for oneself and one’s family promotes dignity and wellness.”
To date, the Western Cape department of agriculture has supported nearly 2 600 food gardens across the province with 377 of these gardens being on the West Coast.
Staff at St Boniface Primary School in Rietpoort are proud of their food garden. According to principal Hester Riffel the school built a community garden after it received two tunnels from the department of agriculture.
Great benefits to local communities
“We plant a variety of vegetables which we harvest four times per year. The fresh vegetables help us provide for our feeding scheme and soup kitchen. We sell excess produce to the community, which enables us to buy new seedlings and, in that way, sustain our garden,” Riffel said.
Eben Miggel, the principal of the neighbouring Rietpoort Primary School, also said that their garden greatly benefits the community.
“Our vegetable garden gives us access to fresh vegetables making us self-sustainable. We have also gotten our learners involved in growing their home vegetable gardens through a school garden competition run by the Jala Peo Foundation,” he said.
Meyer further highlighted that that his department supported 42 household gardens, seven chicken projects and three school projects in the Rietpoort, Bitterfontein and Kliprand areas.
“Community gardens are significant to us in the Western Cape. I am very grateful for the work being done here by the principals and staff of both schools as they are promoting food security in Rietpoort.”
Meyer added, “Even though most of the produce is for own consumption, beneficiaries are encouraged to sell surplus produce to the community to strengthen the sustainability of the initiative.”