“Hunger and household food insecurity is real. I am therefore excited that the youth are taking on the issue of food security in our communities, as well as creating economic opportunities for themselves”, said the Western Cape MEC of Agriculture, Dr Ivan Meyer.
The MEC was speaking during his recent visit to the Feed the Khaltsha Community Garden based at the premises of Sibongile Day and Night Care Centre in Khayelitsha.
According to MEC Meyer, the Western Cape Department of Agriculture, through the food security initiative, plays a significant role in contributing to the well-being of the citizens of the Western Cape.
MEC Meyer: “Nothing takes away the dignity of a person like the inability to access sufficient food that meets the nutritional requirements for themselves and their loved ones. For this reason, the Western Cape Department of Agriculture has over the past two financial years supported 174 community food security projects, 69 school food gardens and 8238 household food production initiatives.”
Feed the Khaltsha was established in February 2020 by Thapelo Xabanisa and Baluleke Xabanisa who has an agricultural background as he studied at the Western Cape Department of Agriculture’s Elsenburg Agricultural Training Institute.
Thapelo and Baluleka, the core project leaders, started the vegetable initiative due to a shared desire for self-employment and empowerment. Initially, Feed the Khaltsha concentrated on providing organic veggies to the Sibongile Centre, which specialises in caring for individuals with special needs and/or other abilities. They have been effective in reducing the centre's monthly expenses by supplying it with fresh vegetables.
Thapelo Xabanisa said, “We started by supporting Sibongile Day and Night Centre. Soon the community began hearing about us and wanted to buy our produce. We also began advertising on Facebook and Instagram and soon organizations such as UCOOK and Uthando displayed an interest in supporting us.
The team at Feed The Khaltsha possesses extensive knowledge in organic agricultural practises, that is soil preparation, planting, cultivation, as well as sales and marketing. Although they began with nothing but innovative ideas, their unwavering determination accompanied by infrastructural development and support from the Western Cape Department of Agriculture, has propelled them towards sustainable vegetable production and economic opportunities.
Baluleke Xabanisa said that armed with only a rake, a spade, a vision, a drive and a passion for agriculture they wanted to make a difference.
Baluleke: “ We started with nothing. Our garden has expanded from 15 square metres to 403 square metres and we are now ready to expand even more.
“There is a lot of beauty we can do as youth. By putting in the work we can make a difference” adds Buleleke.
The project presently offers clients a range of fresh and locally grown vegetables. These include tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, lettuce, spinach, carrots, broccoli, parsley, and spring onion. They also offer a mix of seasonal produce to provide their clients with a wide range of options throughout the year. Produce is harvested at the peak of ripeness, ensuring optimal flavour and nutritional value ensuring freshness and quality.
The farm follows organic and sustainable farming methods to promote and attract clients who prioritise health-conscious and environmentally friendly choices. The vegetables are grown without the use of synthetic pesticides or genetically modified organisms.
MEC Meyer concluded by saying that our youth are eager to make a difference adding that “we must turn every dumpsite in our communities into a garden of hope. By doing so, we stop dumping and work towards addressing hunger and food security, and helping our young people live productive lives that allow them to contribute to our communities and our economy”.Distributed by APO Group on behalf of Western Cape Agriculture and Rural Development, South Africa.