South Africa: Planting Veggies for the Hard Times Ahead

Philipina Ndamane holds up some of the vegetables she has grown in the Abalama Bezehkaya garden in Guguletu, Cape Town (file photo).

Candy Mayfair of Oudtshoorn has started growing vegetables for the first time in her life

"Before lockdown, l would wake up in the morning and go out job hunting," says 21-year-old Candy Mayfair of Valhuise, Oudtshoorn. "But because l am in lockdown, l then decided to be productive."

Mayfair had spent three years looking for a job without luck. When the lockdown started, she decided to get a vegetable garden going.

She says she developed an interest in gardening from her grandmother, who worked on a small holding outside Oudtshoorn. "My grandma had a big yard where she used to plant vegetables, and as a child l would help her with watering the garden," she says.

Her uncle, who works as a gardener in town and lives a few blocks away from her home, provided her with the seeds.

The garden has now grown from a small patch to beautiful green plots surrounding her two-bedroom home. She has carrots, cabbage, beetroot, onions, tomatoes, pumpkin, spinach and lettuce.

"Every evening, l water my small veggies with a bucket of water," she says. Luckily for her, the communal standpipe is just in front of her home.

"This garden is expected to feed my family and l don't have to go the shops to buy veggies ... My wish is to open up a small fresh vegetables stand in the near future and supply big companies," says Mayfair.

Valhuise is a large informal community with high youth unemployment and high levels of poverty. A number of families still have to share water and toilets. Some toilets don't have doors.

Mayfair hopes she will inspire other unemployed youth in her area to start food gardens. "The youth must understand that a R350 government grant is still not the solution to our social problems," she says.

Mayfair's mother, Veronica, says, "I hope she continues and encourages others to follow suit, because we are now living in hard times."

Lucy Seaman, a neighbour and community leader, says, "She is an inspiration to this community. As the community we need to support her fully. The only way to fight hunger and poverty is plant veggies," says Seaman.

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