“We wanted to do something positive.” Two Tshwane women have turned a rubbish dump into a thriving little vegetable garden, growing spinach and mutshaina (African spinach).
During the Covid lockdown in 2020, Lufuno Doyoyo and Sinah Mudau decided to use a vacant piece of municipal land to grow food to sell in the community. With approval from the local councillor, they planted seeds on the small plot in Salvokop, just outside central Pretoria.
“We wanted to do something positive and be active,” said Doyoyo. “We were tired of just sitting and doing nothing.”
According to the City of Tshwane, about 1 000 people live in Salvokop, and many of them are unemployed.
With help from Doyoyo’s brother, the two women started clearing up the land and removing rubbish and soon they were surprised when a group of men joined in.
They had to caution people to stop throwing rubbish in the area and later managed to put up a small fence at the front. Water to maintain their garden is connected straight from the street underground pipe.
They employ an assistant, Eugene Govi, who works in the garden while the two women do their own work. Mudau runs a food business just next to the garden, where some of the spinach is also being cooked.
They want to finish clearing the land and fencing it. They would like to grow other vegetables as well as spinach. At present they sell about 20 batches of spinach and mutshaina per week, making roughly R200. Other money they need for Govi’s salary and for seedlings and other costs comes from their own savings.
Doyoyo says they would like to learn more about growing food and intend to apply for help through the department of agriculture, land reform, and rural development’s Comprehensive Agricultural Support Programme.
Eventually they hope to create more jobs and to sell vegetables outside Salvokop.
This article was written by Ezekiel Kekana and first published by Ground Up.
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