Lockdown highlighted the need for food security

Entrepreneur aims to launch fully fledged vegetable production farm

Passionate about sustainable vegetable farming is Renshia Manuel, the founder of Growbox.
Passionate about sustainable vegetable farming is Renshia Manuel, the founder of Growbox.
Image: SUPPLIED

The coronavirus and nationwide lockdown highlighted the need for food security in the country’s most vulnerable communities. 

This is according to Growbox founder Renshia Manuel, 38, who is working on a project to introduce sustainable vegetable farming in the Cape Flats and Hanover Park in Cape Town.

“The fact that millions have lost their jobs or are trying to find alternative incomes, due to fewer working hours or rising food prices, makes us want to do even more to make a difference in our communities,” says Manuel.

She aims to launch a fully fledged vegetable production farm, called the Urban Farmers’ Market, on November 1.

The first project phase is the farming area, in which vegetables are being grown organically. “A portion of this harvest will be supplied to soup kitchens within the community, but the bulk will be sold at economical prices to the local community. By cutting out vegetable agents and transportation costs, we can sell at prices locals can afford,” says Manuel.

The market will cater for low-income households that cannot afford store-bought produce and will provide a safe, family-friendly and holistic place for economic opportunities for the vendors.

“The market will also provide members of the community with sustainable farming skills. Those financially affected by the pandemic will gain experience in farming produce and selling it at the market,” says Manuel.

The local community has been involved from the start of the project.

“When we first needed to excavate the site for farming, there was so much community interest that we invited four local non-governmental organisations to assist when we started planting. Their support is overwhelming and their members assist us on planting days.

"The community is also involved in the Urban Farmers' Market, as all committee members are from the local community.

“We encourage locals to pop by and visit. They can assist with planting or sowing or spend some quiet time away from their busy schedule. If they are looking for advice for their own garden, we are happy to assist. We always have extra pairs of gloves on standby,” says Manuel.

• This article was first published by GCIS's Vukuzenzele

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