Growing crops to feed the needy
IN AN effort to assist pensioners and people living with HIV-Aids, the Masincedane Vegetable Project in Gugulethu has established an organic garden to provide them with healthy vegetables.
"We started the project with 32 members in 1999," said project co-founder Philipine Ndamane. "Our aim was to support people living with HIV-Aids and pensioners because we noticed many people were suffering and did not have money to buy vegetables every day. So we women came up with the idea.
She said some women dropped out of the project because its members did not get paid.
"We don't get paid for what do. We get two plots each - one to grow vegetables for the community and one to grow for our family. That is how we get paid," she said. "We do it for the love of agriculture and because we want to give back to the community. All of us are pensioners."
She said the proceeds from selling some of the vegetables were used to buy seeds. The ill were given vegetables for free.
"We used to use our pension money to buy seeds. But now we have the support of the Department of Agriculture, City of Cape Town, Abalimi Bezekhaya (another organic vegetable project), Fezeka magistrate's court and other organisations.
"They supply us with seeds, water, manure and equipment. Sometimes prisoners help us clean the garden," she said.
Lybia Pela, 59, described organic vegetables as healthy.
"We don't use chemicals. We use compost only. And our vegetables have more vitamins," she bragged.
She urged the youth to follow their example.
"We want people, especially the youth, to join us and stop undermining agriculture.
"We need people we can leave this garden to because we are getting older now," Pela pleaded.
Shaba Esitang, 80, said: "We used to come to work at eight in the morning until four in the afternoon, but we are getting older now, so we leave at three in the afternoon.
Esitang said one of their greatest challenges was dealing with insects that destroy their crops.