East London: An Eastern Cape community is discovering that the organic vegetables they harvest are both healthy and profitable.
Residents of Highbury outside Mthatha have been benefiting from a project being run by the provincial government’s Eastern Cape Appropriate Technology Unit (ECATU), which equips and trains communities to start organic vegetables gardens and become self-sufficient.
“The produce that comes out of my garden assists me financially. I use some of the vegetables to cook for my family and sell the rest,” said unemployed mother of three, Vuyokazi Maligobe.
She grows spinach, cabbage, beetroot, green peppers, onions and tomatoes in her back yard using water from a nearby river and manure she gets from ECATU. She makes an average of R300 a month selling her vegetables, money she uses to buy groceries.
Fellow Highbury resident Zoliswa Ndyalvane said the health of her and many other families in the community has improved as a result of the project.
“My children used to develop skin rashes all the time. Since I started cooking meals for them using the vegetables I grow, their rashes have disappeared,” said Ndyalvane.
ECATU development facilitator Nokubonga Zondi said the Organic Garden Project was started 2007 and initially focused on school gardens and promoting agricultural skills.
“We first worked with Bantwanana Junior Secondary School near Idutywa. It really helped the school because they used fresh produce to assist with the school’s feeding scheme,” said Zondi.
ECATU decided to extend the project to Highbury and Mngcibe villages, communities with high unemployment rates that were ideal for a project that is relatively inexpensive to run and has great benefits for the community’s health.
“This project focuses on organic farming, which is less costly for communities to maintain. The project is also environmentally friendly, as there are no chemicals used,” said Zondi.