With a thumbs-up from Food and Trees for Africa (FTFA) and a seed donation, Amantle Vikwane from Rustenburg converted what used to be a dumping site and an escape route for criminals into fertile ground to farm fresh fruit and vegetables in his village.
Last year, Vikwane was announced as the winner of the MultiChoice Enriching Lives Award. At just 26 years old, he already runs a wide network of community projects, including a community food garden in Maumong, Rustenburg.
Vikwane’s mission proves how much change one person can achieve with very little. “It all began when Shoprite gifted me a R500 voucher, which I used to buy gardening materials like tools and seedlings. I donated these to Meriti Secondary School,” he says.
“I then told Shoprite I would like to have more gardens, especially community food gardens.”
FTFA – a perfect launching pad
After implementing a few small-scale farming initiatives, things really took off when Amantle was introduced to FTFA. “When I found out that I could apply to Food and Trees for Africa, they sent someone to inspect the land and we started the Maumong Community Food Garden from scratch in 2019. FTFA provided everything from infrastructure like fencing and a water tank to tools, equipment, and seedlings and vegetables.”
This project allowed Amantle to increase the impact of his community interventions.
“Firstly, we didn’t have space to plant all the seedlings. We were able to donate those to particularly needy community members with backyard gardens. I was also able to achieve a larger project providing wider benefits for the first time. I could help not only my community, but the whole of Rustenburg.”
Reaching out during the pandemic
During the Covid-19 lockdowns, for example, the Rustenburg municipality and department of agriculture opened a homeless centre in the Rustenburg CBD.
“I was able to feed 58 people there from the Maumong food garden, as well as 28 disadvantaged people in Maumong, and 32 children in the Maumong centre,” says Vikwane.
“This is actually how I got nominated for the MultiChoice Enriching Lives Award. Someone outside my village nominated me because my garden with FTFA was providing for the surrounding areas.”
Amantle highlights the training FTFA provides as an important benefit.
“FTFA’s facilitators still visit the garden to offer these skills. While I started my gardens back in 2013, working with FTFA was the first time I incorporated permaculture principles. I’ll never forget when they taught me about the different types of vegetables and how to water them effectively, while our project teams have learnt important concepts like intercropping.”
“We also have manuals, step-by-step guides, and books to learn from. We are able to take our skills back to our other projects and train more people from the community on the basics of agriculture,” he adds.
“The commitment shown by Amantle at Maumong is clear for anyone to see, and we couldn’t be more proud of him for winning the Multichoice Award,” says FTFA food gardens manager, Luyanda Ntuli.
Giving the silent a voice
Vikwane has big plans for the future.
“Winning this award gave me the motivation to continue the good work I’ve been doing. It gives me hope for the future and for voiceless individuals. I believe I will continue to enrich the lives of many more South Africans.
“My goal is to set up two more community gardens and 10 backyard gardens, hopefully with the help of FTFA. We can then transfer skills to continue setting up gardens. If we could get 67 gardens set up, we could feed 67 000 disadvantaged people!”
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