Can’t af­ford veg­gies? Grow your own

CityPress - - News - AMANDA SONO news@city­

The pen­sion­ers work­ing on the Di­h­wayi tsa Pho­mo­long Clinic Food Gar­den­ing Pro­ject love their veg­eta­bles so much that they wa­ter them while singing gospel songs, and change the lyrics to sing about the names of veg­eta­bles.

At­teridgeville aun­ties Madich­aba Mudumela and Sabrina Baloyi be­gan their veg­etable­farm­ing pro­ject in 2010. The City of Tsh­wane al­lo­cated a hectare of land to them, and ve­hi­cle man­u­fac­turer Nis­san do­nated 60 shade­cloth tun­nels in which to plant the crops, along with farm­ing im­ple­ments, fer­tiliser and train­ing.

Now they and 31 other res­i­dents – mostly women and pen­sion­ers – grow spinach, green pep­pers, toma­toes and green beans, which they do­nate to pa­tients at the nearby Pho­mo­long Clinic, as well as to needy com­mu­nity mem­bers. They also get to take some of the veg­gies home.

Mudumela was taught to grow veg­gies by train­ers from the depart­ment of agri­cul­ture.

“At least now peo­ple get to have some­thing to eat. We are pas­sion­ate about what we do and most of us are pen­sion­ers,” says Mudumela.

They also grow veg­eta­bles in dis­carded tyres, which re­duces the amount of wa­ter needed.

Di­h­wayi tsa Pho­mo­long pro­ject mem­ber Mar­garet Mohlala (50) says grow­ing her own veg­eta­bles means she spends R900 less of her monthly bud­get on food for her fam­ily.

Mohlala, a sin­gle par­ent af­ter her hus­band left her last year, lives with her six chil­dren and a grand­child. Only her el­dest son has a job, as a petrol at­ten­dant. Her two youngest chil­dren are still at school.

She grows veg­eta­bles for the pro­ject, and at home as well.

“The pro­ject helps me be­cause it gives me peace of mind. I’ve learnt from it that you need to work hard to fend for your chil­dren. Some­times I take veg­eta­bles from the pro­ject and sell them here at home af­ter work so that my chil­dren can eat,” she says.

“At the end of the week, we’re also given veg­eta­bles from the pro­ject to cook and eat at home, which is a great help.”

Mohlala earns about R400 ev­ery two months from sales at the cen­tre it­self. Be­fore she started grow­ing veg­eta­bles, she used to spend R2 400 on gro­ceries a month. Now she spends R1 500.

“I used to spend a lot of money on food be­fore the pro­ject, buy­ing veg­eta­bles very ex­pen­sively from su­per­mar­kets. Some­times I’d get food from soup kitchens pro­vided by the mu­nic­i­pal­ity. This pro­ject has saved me from walk­ing long dis­tances to get food, and the grant money I get for my two smaller chil­dren helps me here and there, be­cause we get to buy meat and maize meal.

“At the pro­ject, ev­ery­thing is cheap. You get a bunch of spinach for R7, a pack of toma­toes for R5, and so much more. We are able to eat a bunch of spinach for three days, be­cause it is not a small bunch like in the su­per­mar­kets.”

Mohlala pro­tects the veg­eta­bles in her gar­den at home from pests by us­ing an ef­fec­tive home-made mix­ture. She mixes gar­lic, chill­ies and dish-wash­ing liq­uid with wa­ter, soak­ing the so­lu­tion overnight. Then she sprays the mix­ture on her plants the next day.

“I was poor, but now when I look at my­self, I am bet­ter than be­fore. I sur­vive with my kids.”

PROUD Pro­ject mem­ber Mar­garet Mohlala (front right) and her fam­ily

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