How Afrika Tikkun’s Vegetable Garden at Diepsloot provides food, recovery and inspiration

When the vegetable garden at the Afrika Tikkun’s Wings of Life Centre in Diepsloot was established, it supplied vegetables to the soup kitchen feeding vulnerable families in the community. In the 2000s, the garden was used to train young people in farming vegetable. The aim was to encourage them to form a corporation and go into farming permanently, thereby creating sustainable employment for themselves and members of their community.

 

In addition to fresh food, the garden has a number of other uses, including as a therapeutic space. Social workers at Wings of Life use the garden for garden therapy with their clients; gardens have been known to reduce stress and improve mood, resulting in a reduction in symptoms of depression and anxiety.

 

In 2019, to honour Sandy Jacobson, a supporter and activist for food gardens, the Garden to Kindergarden (G2K) programme was introduced, transferring gardening skills to the Grade R’s, their parents and Grade R educators. In this programme, Grade R’s saw the value of growing their fresh, organic vegetables from seeds or seedlings and seeing them appear on their plate as a meal. The garden produces spinach, beetroot, carrots, cabbage, peppers, tomatoes, onions, kale, herbs and edible flowers.

 

Water restrictions in the community do present certain challenges in maintaining the garden. In response to this, the garden was mulched to help with moisture retention. Also, challenges related to the COVID-19 lockdown means there is less time for maintaining the garden and Grade Rs aren’t able to actively participate as before.

 

Still, the pandemic revealed just how important the implementation of a long-term food security strategy is to community resilience during a crisis. Wings of Life is proud to be setting a great example for the community of Diepsloot.

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