Veg­gie gar­den grows into cash

Group cleans up il­le­gal dump­ing site

Sowetan - - News - By Karabo Led­waba

A group of res­i­dents in Alexan­dra, north­ern Jo­han­nes­burg, have turned an il­le­gal dump site into a flour­ish­ing veg­etable busi­ness.

The group of five women and a man who came to­gether to cre­ate an ur­ban veg­etable farm to feed their fam­i­lies, or­phan­ages, old-age homes and to sup­ply street ven­dors are now aim­ing for the stars.

The Modimo O Teng Co­op­er­a­tive led by 60-year-old Nora Mose­lak­gomo will to­day sell their pro­duce in a trial part­ner­ship with re­tailer Check­ers Hy­per in Eden­vale.

The veg­etable farm was first cre­ated in 2012 by the un­em­ployed group. It took them a week to trans­form an old il­le­gal dump site in Marl­boro into a sus­tain­able ur­ban veg­etable farm. “We had no jobs and we could not let our chil­dren starve,” Mose­lak­gomo said.

“Many of us are elderly. We have to get up early in the morn­ing to toil the land which leaves us tired and in pain, some­times we don’t even eat.”

She said the idea of the co­op­er­a­tive came about be­cause of the hard­ships of poverty but it only re­cently started to grow into a busi­ness. Many of the women worked odd jobs as do­mes­tic work­ers but could not find full time em­ploy­ment.

They grow or­ganic veg­eta­bles such as cabbage, spring onions, car­rots and herbs.

Lekau Nkoko, 48, one of the women, said: “We were for­tu­nate that the mu­nic­i­pal­ity do­nated to us this land in Marl­boro. Be­fore we came here we were rent­ing in Alexan­dra for R3 420 a month which we some­times did not have.”

Their farm, how­ever, has been tar­geted by thieves. “Our tools are not safe and our veg­eta­bles and wa­ter pipes have been stolen be­fore,” Nkoko said.

She urged South Africans to sup­port lo­cal farm­ers.

/ VELI NH­LAPO

Mem­bers of the Modimo O Teng Co­op­er­a­tive in Marl­boro Gar­dens make a sur­plus of pro­duce af­ter feed­ing their fam­i­lies.

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