Al-Maamana Outreach Programme was given a new lease on life with the donation of a container for their 18-month-old community vegetable garden.
Seeds were planted on the
2 000 square metre plot of land, in Candytuft Street, New Lentegeur, on Human Rights Day last year, which they have been leasing from the City of Cape Town since 2012.
Today, New Lentegeur residents benefit from the fruit and vegetable garden, which their fellow neighbours tend to every day – cleaning the ground, preparing the soil, digging trenches, planting seeds, watering the grounds and harvesting the food to feed about 200 people with a hearty dish every Wednesday.
Abobakar Dramat, chairman of Al-Maamana Outreach Programme, said they can now cook food and store equipment in the container donated to them by Breadline Africa, a registered non-profit organisation, which converts shipping containers for poverty relief in South Africa into classrooms, toilets, libraries and kitchens.
Previously, they were cooking from Mr Dramat’s home at 36 Gerbera Road, New Lentegeur, for the past seven years.
Back then they fed hundreds of people three times a week, with support from the Department of Social Development and various private donors.
Al-Maamana was founded by Mr Dramat’s wife Rashieda Dramat in 2009, structured to serve the community by feeding them, assisting with funeral services and reaching out to the youth, women and children, unemployed and seniors.
Mr Dramat said anyone can volunteer at the garden and expect payment in vegetables, if there are veggies available.
He welcomed donors to plant trees in their personal capacity and to fetch the first harvest.
The produce is not for sale yet, but residents can fetch what they need. “All we ask is that residents come and volunteer, even if it is a few hours a week,” said Mr Dramat.
He said anyone is welcome in the garden, but people who roam the streets and are unable to help out should not queue for food.
Edward Kampher, from Heinz Park, works in the garden every day, “come rain or shine”. He said gardening keeps him busy and that the earth feeds him when he works with it, “by the grace of God”.
Volunteers also attend gardening workshops and stand in line to participate in Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP) projects.
Puleng Phooko, Breadline Africa Cape Town programmes manager, said organisations complete an application form for the type of container or infrastructure they need, which could be for toilets, kitchens, sick bays, classrooms or libraries. “Beneficiaries range from early childhood development (ECD) centres to community feeding kitchens to primary schools,” she said.
They assess the applications and select ones that fit their criteria, which includes working in impoverished communities, having a solid structured programme and commitment to sustainability, the ability to maintain the infrastructure, working with relevant partnerships and having the rights to lease or work on the designated site. “In addition we require electricity, water, sewerage on site,” she said.
Ms Phooko said they then try and find funding from individual donors and corporations, trusts and foundations.
“Once we have funding, we start the conversion process. Once the infrastructure is delivered, we do monitoring and evaluation for a certain length of time,” she said.
The City of Cape Town’s Social Development and Early Childhood Development directorate also has a poverty alleviation programme which is aimed at helping with the establishment and nurturing of community food gardens in communities in need.
Suzette Little, mayoral committee member for social development and early childhood development, said Al-Maamana food garden is one such initiative which is supported by the City by providing gardening equipment, seedlings, training, and making available workers via the EPWP to help tend to the garden.
“The City supports this food garden as it supports the community through a soup kitchen,” she said.
The City’s programme aims to support community food production and security through facilitating the establishment and maintenance of food gardens by providing training to food gardeners, by investigating alternative strategies in support of food security and through looking at the feasibility of providing support to small-scale community-based farming co-operatives.