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The City of Cape Town’s poverty alleviation programme supports more than a hundred food gardens across the metro – many thriving because of the commitment of the elderly. Read more below:

The City’s Poverty Alleviation Programme supported 114 food gardens in the last financial year of which 86 were community gardens and 28 were gardens being run at City-owned early childhood development centres across the metropole.

One of the highlights of the past year’s efforts was the establishment and support that was provided to bigger food gardens that are able to produce vegetables on a larger scale, thus improving the odds of sustainability. These gardens were able to support a considerable number of people and income was also generated from the sale of produce. Examples of successful big gardens include Inkwenkwezi in Philippi, Masipile in Khayelitsha, Kleinberg in Ocean View and the Scottsdene Youth Centre in Kraaifontein.In the current financial year, the Directorate will provide ongoing support to 12 large-scale gardens. This includes training, but also the provision of equipment including boreholes, nets and even the establishment of nurseries. This is in addition to the 55 food gardens that will receive support at a district level.

‘Food security continues to be an issue that plagues many households in our country. Recently we’ve heard that food prices are going through the roof, making even the most basic necessities unaffordable to the poor. All the more reason why we should plough even more resources into food gardens in our most vulnerable communities to help eliminate hunger and the desperate circumstances that so many people face,’ said the City’s Mayoral Committee Member for Social Development and Early Childhood Development, Councillor Suzette Little.

The City will be spending R3,12 million on its food gardens programme in this financial year. The money will be used to help establish gardens and to support existing gardens with equipment, seedlings, training and even labourers through the Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP). The produce harvested by the individual gardens is distributed to individuals in need in the surrounding communities or sold as a means to generate an income.

Some of the challenges that the programme faces include an over-reliance on EPWP workers, theft and vandalism, insufficient awareness around sustainable food gardening and water scarcity.

‘We’ve come to realise that many of our food gardens are being kept alive by elderly persons who aren’t always capable of the physically demanding tasks that come with such an initiative. I am completely flabbergasted at the state of affairs, especially given the rate of youth unemployment in many of our communities. I challenge our young people to pitch in and to help build their communities by giving their time and effort to these food gardens. As we saw with the YouthStart challenge earlier this year, it could even sow the seeds for an entrepreneurial opportunity,’ added Councillor Little.

In a bid to mitigate the challenges faced by the programme, the City will start recruiting more community members to play an active role in their local food gardens, link gardens to local markets, promote and support the establishment of nurseries and provide training on responsible water use, for example the re-use of grey water.

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