Youth urged to take up agriculture

Emerging farmer Dawn Ehrenreich levels the mulch in the garden.

Emerging farmer and Portland resident Dawn Ehrenreich urged the youth to join the agricultural sector in an effort to boost the economy of this country.

Ms Ehrenreich, 55, who won the Best Subsistence Producer award during the Female Entrepreneur Awards held at Kronenburg in Paarl last month, runs the Dig for Victory organic vegetable and herb garden at the Clanwilliam park in Portland.

Ms Ehrenreich, who graduated with a National Diploma in Horticulture in 2007, believes that if one follows your passion, success will follow.

After graduating she worked in nature conservation and later joined the City of Cape Town’s WasteWise project as a community facilitator. Her interest in climate change resulted in her receiving training from former American vice-president Al Gore’s Climate Reality Leadership Corps Training programme, which aimed to equip communicators with the knowledge to educate communities on the costs of carbon pollution and what can be done to solve the climate crisis.

Ms Ehrenreich started working at Lux Mundi Church with 10 other members in 2014. The garden was initially established as a waste wise pilot project. It developed into a vegetable garden, which later expanded to the local park.

“In 2016, I started working with my own group, which was mainly youth at Clanwilliam Park,” she said.

Ms Ehrenreich said for her it wasn’t about winning awards but about gaining experience and networking with other industry role-players. She said she wanted to empower youth and women in agriculture.

“We need more women in this industry, which is mostly dominated by men. We need more young women to get into agriculture. It is no longer about labour, it’s about science and technology. We are having to dealing more with natural causes like droughts and climate change, so we need people who are innovate. Agriculture is broad – it is also about taking care of the environment and community at large,” she said.

Mrs Ehrenreich urged people to use land wisely and preserve its richness.

“Our garden is organic. We use traditional methods to cultivate our food. We don’t use fertiliser; we recycle decomposed crops and use mulch. And we are planting vegetables which are familiar to the community like cabbage, beans, peas, spinach, onion, carrots and flowers that repel insects. We grow seasonal food to keep our soil healthy,” she explained, adding that their target market was
the community, with whom they have a good relationship because they also helped to look after the garden.

Ms Ehrenreich said the irrigation system is one of their challenges.

“Because of the City’s regulations on water restrictions, we have boreholes for irrigation but our irrigation system is not up to standard; it doesn’t work properly. We really need help,” she said.

For more information about Dig for Victory , or if you want to help, call Ms Ehrenreich at 072 334 2806.