Feed the Future For Life, an organisation dedicated to planting vegetables & maintaining veggie gardens in local communities like Elsies River in the Western Cape, is inspiring food security and introducing youngsters to the untapped world of agriculture.
In a community where gun violence runs rampant, Geronimo de Klerk (19), his brother Valentino (20) and 13 of their friends started the project to bring hope to their community.
“Growing up in Elsies River is not easy,” De Klerk says. “I mean, while you are supposed to focus on your goals in life, you have to live with what’s happening around you. Once I saw a little girl reading a book on the side of the road while a gun fight had broken out.”
He says that this is normal in his community but this has inspired him and his friends to turn the Cape Flats community into a “food jungle”.
In five different locations you’ll find this group of young men cultivating foods like broccoli, tomatoes, spinach, cucumbers, carrots, basil, Brussels sprouts and even fruit trees.
“That is why Feed The Future wants to ensure that we can support communities with vegetables as well as indigenous plants that we grow in all our food gardens in Cape Town,” he says.
On a mission to restore hope
De Klerk and his team aim to create a sustainable platform where people learn to grow their own foods. They have since started veggie gardens at various local primary schools as well.
“If you come to Elsies River, all you hear about is gangsterism, crime and unemployment. If people don’t have something to eat, they are going to steal, this is the reality of the situation,” De Klerk says.
The food activist started his first food garden in 2017. “We live with corruption, people don’t have jobs, there’s no service delivery and they are struggling to survive. I know of people who live in a one-bedroom home with 19 other people. This shouldn’t be happening,” he says.
Food grown in the garden is donated to feeding schemes in the community. “We prefer to focus on feeding schemes because they are able to reach more people than we can and they run seven days a week. Then what we do is create little vegetable boxes for the elderly,” he explains.
The Feed The Future Garden Project also offers training programmes where they teach people how to grow their own food.
Garden needs helping hand
The group is happy that the community responded well to what they are trying to do. Some could not believe that they could freely harvest from the garden.
A project of this nature, De Klerk says, is not easy. There are many challenges, of which funding is the biggest.
“We have a Facebook page, so we ask for donations and funding mostly through this page. This is how we keep the gardens running. Sometimes people in a faraway area want to support us, but we don’t have transport to collect whatever it is that they want to give us,” he says.
De Klerk says they have big plans for the garden project, but that all of it is tied to finance and support.
Those who are able to donate seedlings, gardening equipment, money or offer agricultural skills training can contact De Klerk via the Feed The Future garden project Facebook page.