Manzi Urban Gardening Team from Monwabisi Park
Nosipho Klaas has 11 years of dedicated service, led by her passion for children and community development, in the Early Childhood Development [ECD] field. She started off as a volunteer at her daughter’s pre-school in the suburbs of Woodstock and in 2014 she joined the Emthonjeni programme in Monwabis Park. On a daily basis she was witness to the hunger and poverty in her community. Her experience taught her that children cannot learn properly or reach their full potential on empty stomachs. Kids needed to learn on a full stomach. She decided to find a local, sustainable way of providing these meals.
The solution birthed the Manzi Garden Project. The garden is located just behind the Neighbourhood Centre in Monwabisi Park where the ECD programmes take place. Nosipho and a group of garden enthusiasts, encourage children and their parents from the Emthonjeni programme to bring their food waste to be converted via the Bokashi process into compost. The produce they grow is used to feed hungry children participating in the Emthonjeni programme. The team’s efforts have shown a remarkable impact in the community, increasing the interaction between parents and their children, as well as raising their awareness about the importance of the ECD. Most of all, they are producing locally grown, healthy, sustainable food for the children of the community. They have also kickstarted a small urban gardening revolution in Monwabisi Park.
The Manzi Garden Project is a social enterprise founded by three Monwabisi Park residents responding to the ever-increasing need to lead safe and healthy lives in a township environment.
We want to empower communities through education, inspire environmental health and connect people to organic food.
Urban agriculture involves the community in turning under-utilised open spaces into productive shared space. Food waste management is a way to transform organic waste into a resource, nourishing the soil, essential to sustainable gardening. However, urban gardening and food waste management offer much more than just food production within urban settings. It is an opportunity to facilitate the development of sustainable enterprises within marginalised neighbourhoods.
The potential benefits of Community Urban Gardening
Co-producing sustainable enterprises enables socio-economic development, enhances the environment and raises ecological stewardship.
People who live in food deserts, where no fresh produce is available, are given access to fresh nutritious food. The risk of going hungry is reduced through opportunities to grow food where one lives. Opportunities are provided to grow and eat food that is free from chemicals, without paying high market prices.
A healthy diet leads to a healthy life. Both the physical and mental health of people involved in fresh food production is improved. The more people grow and eat fresh produce, the better the overall health of the community. Kids exposed to growing food tend to eat what they grow. They generally eat more vegetables and fruits than those who do not know where food comes from.
People who are actively or even passively [as spectators] involved in fresh food production tend to cut down their unhealthy food consumption causing diabetes and obesity. When affordable fresh produce is abundant, people eat it. Eating fresh produce reduces the risk of many diseases and the associated costs of treatment. Gardening and farming provide excellent outdoor exercise, fostering a healthy lifestyle.
Gardening is a proven therapy. Working in the garden is a healing activity, as connecting with earth quietens the mind.
Community members are brought together around a common interest, thus promoting positive interaction and social cohesion.
Little gardeners from local ECD’s
Urban gardens employ water-wise technologies, such as rain harvesting systems.
Organic techniques used and the diversity of crops planted supports healthy soils.
Food waste is recycled and reused as compost and animal feed. Wastewater is recycled and used for irrigation.
READ ABOUT IT: Manzi Urban Gardeners in Monwabisi Park have launched Zenzele Bokashi and are working with the community to turn their waste into compost for their home gardens
The shortening of food distribution distance, the availability of local produce and organic waste recycling, all contribute to improving air quality
Energy needs and costs associated with refrigeration and long-distance transportation of food are reduced. Alternative forms of energy such as solar, wind, or geothermal, are applied where possible.
Food production involvement triggers ecological awareness and inspires people to protect it.
Urban agriculture contributes to improve air quality and to reduce the heat island effect by providing active landscape.
“There is no better tool known or available to fight climate change than urban agriculture”— Jac Smit
A variety of edible plants are introduced into the urban environment, breaking the monotonous look of some neighbourhoods.
Abandoned, trash ridden properties with overgrown weeds — the eyesore of the neighbourhood — are replaced with nicely maintained green spaces. Neighbourhoods are revitalised by converting vacant areas into beautiful, productive green spaces, improving the quality of life in neighbourhoods.
Contaminated or under-utilised industrial and commercial sites [brown-fields], and abandoned open spaces [greenfields] in urban areas are converted into economically viable green spaces that feed the residents
Quality open spaces are provided, helping the urban areas to breathe.
Undevelopable sites, such as steep slopes, are made economically viable and open spaces are maintained and positively activate in dense communities.
Vegetables ready to be planted
Vibrant Neighbourhoods promote urban gardening as an environmentally smart solution to empower residents to generate income
An urban farm is a business enterprise, so every urban garden adds another small business to the economy. Entrepreneurship is also encouraged as each garden becomes like a social enterprise with expanding possibility. A new cog is added to the economic engine within the world’s oldest industry, which not only enhances the agricultural sector, but also expands its horizon by introducing it to the urban areas.
Urban Garden projects provide the opportunity for previously economically excluded to play an active role within the broader economy.
Urban gardening requires technical skills, technological skills and marketing and business skills.
Intensive growing techniques require manual labour.
Growing and selling produce generates income, despite the scale – home yards, community centres or farms.
Food-based employment opportunities are provided to the economically disadvantaged and/or unskilled people in their communities.
Growing one’s own food saves household expenditure on food and leaves more disposable income for other needs, which in turn, generates demand for goods and services and boosts the economy.
Control of one’s own food system empowers people with the right to grow, sell, and eat healthy food.
There is a quiet revolution stirring in our food system. It is not happening so much on the distant farms that still provide us with the majority of our food; it is happening in cities, neighborhoods, and towns. It has evolved out of the basic need that every person has to know their food, and to have some sense of control over its safety and its security……The revolution is taking place in small gardens, under railroad tracks and power lines, on rooftops, at farmers’ markets, and in the most unlikely of places. It is a movement that has the potential to address a multitude of issues: economic, environmental, personal health, and cultural- Michael Ableman
Community Food Gardens [CFG] involve a wide range of economically excluded people. In particular, it attracts the NEETs [youth that are Not in Employment, Education, or Training], by offering them an alternative to gang and crime-related activities. These community food gardens are demonstration spaces, where everyone is introduced to urban agricultural practices which they replicate in their homes.
At the community food gardens, people can find a home garden starter pack, which includes, compost, seedlings, feeder, and continuous training support. The community food gardens are encouraging and supporting the establishment of food gardens in ECD centres.
Through ECD-based food gardens, children can access healthy produce earlier in life, and while exposing them to natural processes, raising their ecological awareness. Community food gardens are community-owned solutions, they are scalable and replicable, which could extend agricultural practices in the metropolitan Cape Town and surrounding areas.
Typically, urban agriculture uses intensive production methods that recycle nutrients, improve soil, and encourage plant and animal growth without the use of hazardous chemicals. Its products are processed, distributed, and consumed within the same urban area, often within the same neighbourhood, in which they are produced. We believe that urban gardening promotes safety through activation in an informal settlement.
We follow a sequential process, which includes training, site development, agricultural planning, food and waste management and marketing. This path to sustainability is critical in ensuring that community urban gardens thrive.
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Want to learn more about Community Urban Gardening? Read this helpful guide from Australia.