A year ago, we launched our food sustainability program – a strategy aimed at training locals to grow food, on a foundation of a biblical worldview. It teaches conservation agriculture to very high standards, with high quality inputs and nominal cost – except time and effort. We’ve done 4 series of trainings so far, each of which comprises a day and a half of classroom teaching and interaction, followed by a half day practicum in our training garden on the Seed of Hope grounds.
In the first 3 trainings we focused on how to plant, grow and harvest maize (meal corn) as a cash crop. These were well received, but I kept getting questions about vegetables. I answered the questions, but they got me thinking that we actually needed 2 types of trainings – one for those interested in launching a business in agriculture, and one for those wanting to implement small-scale gardens for their table.
So, in July, we taught our first veggie-focused garden course. This was exciting enough, but what added to the excitement was that Musa did more of the training – in Zulu – than ever. After each section, he highlighted all the main points in Zulu. One day, we’ll offer the whole course in Zulu – even though the average English proficiency is very good.
We taught about raised beds with narrow walkways between. We taught about how, though mulching is crucial, we keep the mulch away from the seed rows until the seedlings have come up. We taught about thinning, and weeding, and crop rotations. And then we all went to the training garden and planted our first ever veggie garden.
The garden is beautiful. We have beans, peas, carrots, tomatoes, beets, swiss chard, onions, squash and potatoes. The staff are now going out regularly to see the bounty that’s coming up. It’s all so exciting!
Equally exciting is what we’re going to do with the veggies we grow. We provide a monthly food parcel to families in crisis – perhaps due to the death due to AIDS of the family wage earner. Up until now, these parcels have consisted of rice or maize meal, dry beans, some oil, salt, tea and peanut butter. Now, we’ll be able to package some fresh veggies to many of our parcels, increasing their nutritional value – especially important for those we help that are sick themselves.
In Bhekulwandle, the soil is fertile, the climate conducive all year round, and material for compost making readily available. God’s already provided what’s needed to break the yoke of poverty for those who will be faithful with what he’s given. Pray with me that many will come and learn, an implement what we’re proving can provide plenty.