One man’s mission to transform a rubbish dump into a vegetable garden to ensure sustainability for a soup kitchen in constant need of fresh produce.
South Africans clear garbage dump to create community food garden
The community in Concordia, Knysna, in the Western Cape Province of South Africa will soon have a sustainable food garden to help meet the needs of the local soup kitchen. A team of Knysna locals has given back to their community by transforming an old rubbish dump into a vegetable garden to help supply the neighbourhood soup kitchen with fresh produce long-term.
Organisers are already planning to begin a second vegetable garden
A team of Knysna locals has given back to their community by transforming an old rubbish dump into a vegetable garden to help sustain a soup kitchen in Concordia, Knysna, in the Western Cape Province of South Africa.
Local newspaper the Knysna-Plett Herald report that the the team was led by Joshua Buchalter and Raphaël Ceillier, both alumni of nearby Oakhill College. Prior to Covid-19, Buchalter worked on a cruise ship but managed to get home before lockdown. Even though he was without work, something else didn’t sit right with him.
"Although I was quite frustrated to have abruptly lost a job and lifestyle that I was enjoying, I quickly realised that my frustration was invalid compared to the problems the lockdown had brought many members of our community," he told the Herald. "I decided to use this time to make a positive, lasting difference."
As fate would have it, Buchalter ran into his old friend Ceillier, the founder of local NGO Sparking Minds, who was hard at work dropping off food parcels.
"The immediate distribution of food parcels was crucial, but we both felt that we needed to do more to ensure a sustainable food supply," Buchalter said. Their desire to do more was fulfilled when organisers of a Concordia soup kitchen where they delivered food parcels expressed their desire to grow a vegetable garden.
A small piece of land adjacent to the kitchen was perfect for the project and the owner was all in favour
They enlisted the help of Concordia residents Simbongile Majoqo, Ntsikelelo Mpitimpiti, Khaya Sopasa and Ziyanda Nzulu, but there was one problem. "The land had been used as a rubbish dump site for several years and the amount of rubbish was quite difficult to comprehend. The first step was definitely the most difficult."
Even after the rubbish was removed, the area had to be flattened, as it lay on a slope. But this did not deter them, and with a construction vehicle they levelled the area. The project started on 11 May, and only four weeks later the first seeds were sown.
They have planted broccoli, cauliflower, kale, spinach, onions, potatoes. pumpkins and peas, with the first produce expected in four to six weeks. "This project has been the most rewarding experience of my life," Buchalter said, adding that they are not done just yet.
"Raphaël and I are already planning to begin our second vegetable garden this week and one thing is for certain, we won’t be stopping there!"
The way forward in South Africa is to create sustainable projects for food security
The lockdown has put a spotlight on just how fragile the food system is and how many of the country’s youth are going without nourishing food.
Joshua Buchalter and friend Raphaël Ceillier joined forces to make a difference in Knysna. Raphaël started a non-profit organisation, Sparking Minds, three years ago and has been working in Concordia, helping boost child welfare through various projects. They are currently raising funds for more materials for the garden. Follow them on Facebook, and if you would like to support the non-profit, you can find their details below.
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If you are interested in helping our cause through donations which we will put to good use in changing lives, click through for our bank details or contact us personally. We accept donations through Paypal or direct EFT. — SparkingMinds.org