The Mhani Gingi Social Entrepreneurial Network Herb and Seedling Nursery – which supplies about 30 community gardens, established on the Cape Flats with the support of Ackerman Pick n Pay Foundation and General Mills, United States of America, to boost food security and combat chronic poverty – has relocated to new premises in Athlone in collaboration with the Saartjie Baartman Centre for Women and Children.
Mhani Gingi had to move all its gardening operations to the new site by 30 June 2017 after being given notice to vacate premises previously occupied at Mupine at Old Mutual Head Office in Pinelands, where it has been part of the Tertiary School in Business Education (TSiBA) entrepreneurial wing since 2007. The move entailed relocating three gardening tunnels; a hot house; two ‘Wendy’ houses; all plants and seedlings; as well as the tools and equipment.
The Mhani Gingi Herb and Seedling Nursery is maintained by two nurserywomen, Vuyiseka Tekwane and Siphokazi Sicetsha, who are trained in gardening skills by Mhani Gingi to propagate organic seedlings and tend the beds of vegetables, herbs and decorative plants that supply the community gardens. This enables them to support their families through income earned by working in the nursery while produce from the nursery is also sold at fresh produce markets for funds.
A “big” thank you
Lillian Masebenza, Founding Director of Mhani Gingi Social Entrepreneurial Network, expressed a “big, big” thank you to Burcon Plant Hire CC and Ross Rubble Cycle who were engaged to prepare the new site. Burcon Plant Hire cleared away rubble and vegetation and levelled the ground to make way for the gardening tunnels, the laying of beds for planting and the installation of irrigation. Masebenza also thanked Just Trees who helped to move the trees and plants.
“Mhani Gingi hired a Digger Loader from Burcon Plant Hire from Blackheath Industria to clear the grass and rubble from the allocated space. Mhani Gingi also contracted Ross Rubble Cycle to cart the rubble away. About 43 loads of rubble and rubbish were moved by Ross Rubble Cycle. We remain indebted to their services,” she said.
“We are excited about this initiative as we will now have a better and bigger space to showcase our Flagship Programme,” Masebenza added. The partnership with Saartjie Baartman Centre will also provide vegetables for the centre’s kitchen as well as training women residents in gardening and supplementing the education of the children.
Promoting healthy nutrition and food security
The Flagship Programme houses Mhani Gingi’s gardening and environmental activities which promote healthy nutrition and income generation among people who are vulnerable to food scarcity and chronic poverty. This is achieved through establishing and managing the community food gardens and by providing communities with gardening skills. Mhani Gingi, with the help of collaborative partners LegalWise, Ackerman Pick n Pay Foundation and Swedish partners, has established a Centre of Excellence garden at ID Mkhize Senior Secondary School in Gugulethu where community gardeners are trained.
The Flagship Programme activities are supported by the Ackerman Pick n Pay Foundation; General Mills through United Way Worldwide; the Department of Social Development; the Department of Public Works through the Extended Public Works Programme; City of Cape Town; and others.
Gardening with the differently abled
The community gardens established by Mhani Gingi in various communities of the Cape Flats include a thriving food garden cultivated by about 30 differently abled people at Uitsig Community, gardening activities with five learners at Blouvlei School for children with special needs in Retreat, and vertical gardening with adults at Langa Cheshire Home for Adults.
Besides cultivating healthy food to eat, the gardeners at Uitsig Community receive an income to augment the small disability grants that they receive. Ultimately, Mhani Gingi plans to assist the Uitsig gardeners to register as a co-operative to enable them to supply produce to others, Masebenza said.
Meanwhile, the Flagship Programme assists with the Garden of Angels established at Angels Paradise Early Childhood Development (ECD) facility in Ottery by Mhani Gingi’s Social Responsibility Programme. ECD Principal, Katryn Booysen, has engaged parents in the garden which produces food for the farm community served by the ECD while also educating children of the ECD on the environment and cultivation.
A challenge for the Mhani Gingi Nursery now is to find an alternative energy source to help pay for the electricity and water costs at the new premises.
HOW YOU CAN HELP
Anyone who can assist Mhani Gingi Nursery with:
- Supply of solar panels as an electricity source for the ‘Wendy Houses’;
- Herb and vegetable seedlings;
- Tunnels, water well and sprinklers; or
- Any Assistance in Kind, will be welcomed.