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Thriving food garden feeds 60 children

Dimbaza resident takes it upon herself to ensure disabled children in the area receive three meals

Volunteer Xolani Ronyeni tends to vegetables grown at the ever-expanding food garden at Star Uplifting Centre in Dimbaza
Volunteer Xolani Ronyeni tends to vegetables grown at the ever-expanding food garden at Star Uplifting Centre in Dimbaza

A Dimbaza resident has taken it upon herself to ensure 60 disabled children in the area receive three meals, seven days a week, the ingredients for which are all supplied through her thriving vegetable garden.

The success story started in 2010 in Dimbaza, a rural settlement near King William’s Town, when Star Uplifting Centre project manager Zoleka Khakana first joined the centre, which caters for disabled children.

Initially feeding a handful of children, the garden has since grown rapidly, and through partnering with Shoprite it continues to grow.
As a result, the centre has had to think up innovative solutions to house its ever-expanding crops.

Khakana said the garden started producing healthy crops of cabbage, spinach, carrots, beetroot and lettuce, along with seedlings soon after it was established in 2010.

With support from Shoprite, and guidance from the retailer’s implementation partner Food & Trees for Africa, Zoleka and her team implemented a series of smart solutions, such as vertical growing spaces and tyre stacks to grow potatoes, late last year.

The team also identified new areas around the centre to expand their planting area and received training in permaculture practices to ensure the garden could keep producing fruit and vegetable crops for longer each year.

“I’ve always loved growing crops. As a child, my mother made sure I had a plot to plough and cultivate. So, shortly after I arrived here, I established a food garden with my colleagues,” Khakana said.

“We were motivated by a single goal: to grow enough to feed our young residents and produce a small surplus to sell to the community.

“Any revenue we raised would be reinvested into our children’s care.”

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