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Gardening gives hope to youth


From left Linneth and Auriel Ngobeni with Khisozo Ngwenya in the food garden they have established with the help from the Shoprite Group.

A small but keen group of formerly jobless young people is gardening up a storm in Bushbuckridge.

Linneth Ngobeni, at 46 the oldest member of the Khomanani Vhanu Community Project in Bushbuckridge, explains how hopeless the young job seekers were before they joined the gardening venture: They were looking for work but nowadays there are no jobs. When the young people work in the garden they are gainfully occupied.” She said.

According to Food & Trees for Africa, they spotted the garden’s potential, and that’s where retail store Shoprite stepped in to give them a big boost.

A water tank, tools, educational material and seedlings were provided by the sponsors, and the project members also received extensive training in organic farming methods over a 12-month period.

“Khomanani Vhanu means ‘come together as people’ in Tsonga, and the other six members of the group are delighted at how they have benefited from the garden. Instead of having no income, they are now able to put food on the table and feed their families,” said Ngobeni.

Tomatoes, spinach, beetroot, onions, green peppers and cabbage grow in the garden. This initiative sees food gardens supported by the retail group given the opportunity to sell fresh produce at their nearest supermarket.

Today the Khomanani Vhanu Community Project is making a name for itself among locals. “Shoprite helped to promote us and many people now know about our garden. We are happy and proud to sell vegetables to our community,” Linneth added.

It doesn’t stop there either – they want to go big and have long-term plans to expand the garden into a proper commercial farming venture.