Andile – the all round talent

Andile is one of the latest additions to the Abalimi farmer network. He has been with Abalimi and Harvest of Hope since April 2016.

Andile ́s dream was once to become a buyer in the fashion industry. He thought a job there would give him the opportunity to travel around the world. He then studied IT system support engineering for two years and worked at Vodacom for ten more years. But he never really felt connected with the work he was doing. Andile finally came to the conclusion: “Farming has always been a part of me and I love it more!”

Back in Eastern Cape his father has a farm with livestock, mainly cattle. One day when visiting some friends in Khayelitsha, Andile passed by the Masithobelane Garden and spoke with the people working there. He was impressed by the capacity of the garden. They exchanged contact details and in December 2015 they called him and invited Andile to join their garden.

Since then Andile is responsible for all the admin. Furthermore he is checking the quality of the soil and the produce that comes out of it. He believes that vegetables grown using organic methods are “a kind of healthcare.” Andile has learned a lot about work ethic from the elderly farmers. “But soil quality is poor. We still lack electricity and the biggest challenge is vandalism and theft”, he says.

Besides gardening, Andile is a Tuesday Garden Tour leader for Abalimi and is a member of VUFA (Vukuzenzela Urban Farmers Association). In future he wants to do philanthropic work, be an entrepreneur, travel the world and own a farm that is self sustaining. “You can be a farmer who does more than just producing crops”, he says.

Andile would also like to grow strawberries because “Strawberries are very intimate, they bring lovers to your farm, couples and people with families.”

Although he lives more simply since he left the corporate world Andile says: “I am happier than ever before.”

Tenjiwe Christina Kaba – CEO of Abalimi Bezekhaya

Dear friends of Abalimi Bezekhaya, we have come a long way over the past 35 years. From Green Point, our office moved to Observatory and finally settled in Philippi 10 years ago. We now have an office and also a busy packshed, that is accessible to our farmers. Many of our farmers are making a living from their community gardens.

In 2016 I was appointed CEO of Abalimi, taking over from Rob Small, who has led and served us well for many years. Rob remains a trusted advisor, friend and resource mobilisor under the Farm & Garden National Trust. As a community grassroots leader, I am supported by a small hard working team of qualified professionals who love our vision and mission and ensure that Abalimi is managed well.

In the next few years I intend to pass the leadership of the Abalimi movement on. What is important to me is to see people happy, that people have something to do. The problem of food security hasn’t changed, it is still continuing; and Abalimi is here to help those who can’t help themselves.

Abalimi Bezekhaya is a community organisation. We come here because we love to work with the community. Our job is to help the poor. Food security is our purpose for being here, not only money. We need to stay as a family, we need to help each other. But as a family we need to grow; allowing new, young people and new ideas to come in.

We won’t forget who we are and where we come from. If we stick with that, then Abalimi is indestructible. I will always stand for the name of Abalimi in the community, until I die. I will always defend Abalimi, according to our vision and mission, which you can see on our website.

This newsletter (Edition 35) tells stories that point to our future and the anniversary insert brings back memory of our path through the years. I hope that you are inspired to become, or remain, our friends, on South Africa’s Long Walk to Freedom.

To us, Mandela’s vision is more alive and urgent than ever. We are showing that it is possible for unemployed people to feed and employ themselves, through a new culture of family micro-farming, while building democracy, from the ground up, with love and respect for all.

Mama Kaba

A young farmer and her family

Babalwa Mankayi’s way into farming was sparked by a key moment at her home in Khayelitsha: One day she put some old sprouting potatoes into the soil outside her home. After a few months she was more than surprised that new potatoes had been growing at this very place without any effort on her part.

In 2015, Babalwa attended the Abalimi Young Farmers Training Centre Apprenticeship at SCAGA (Siyazama Community Allotment Garden Association) in Khayelitsha. While studying at SCAGA, Babalwa was able to obtain her own garden beds at a large community garden very close to her home in Khayelitsha.

After only 1,5 years of being involved with Abalimi, the mother of three is a successful farmer of Harvest of Hope. Also her husband Gerald found a job as a driver, delivering vegetable bags for Harvest of Hope. Additionally she has been selected as our newest and youngest fieldworkers Of course she will still carry on growing and selling vegetables as well.

Meals at home have changed as now she is able to cook with vegetables that she couldn’t afford before, such as broccoli or cauliflower. “Farming is an essential skill to learn“ she says. “Home grown vegetables are healthier than the ones that come from the supermarket.”