This project was first planned in 2014 with a Malawian friend, who is a knowledgeable and keen gardener living in a local settlement.
The objective is to grow vegetables on a main site, create a composting system and share the wealth of knowledge we gain as well as the seedlings with those who cannot feed themselves.
It’s all in the Planning::
The objective of not spending money is key. Creating a viable, sustainable, resource driven poverty alleviation system whereby the need for money becomes obsolete in feeding yourself. Returning to trading to ensure variation in diet and continued community spirit and upliftment, the system we design has to be sustainable without cash.
Taking into account the lack of cash of the average hungry person, we designed a system of growing vegetables whereby all equipment required can be acquired free or through an ethical trade system. The seedlings are started in the ‘nursery’ where they are planted out into bottle crates which are discarded and free to collect at the local recycling waste center.
Once we have a workable companion planting system we send the crates to the needy. Placing the crates in positions that will be most effective in growing those particular vegetables. Using the Ubuntu System we encourage communities to swap and share their crops.
We began our journey in 2014 with Composting as the focus due to the site at the time having terrible sandy soil with no nutritional value. Our journey let us through to creating an enviable compost which served a few veggie patches in the locality, sadly for us the site itself was not viable for planting. During these ‘composting’ days we also learned to raise chickens who were instrumental in creating the fantastic compost and, in fact, a wonderfully soft, lush bed of green, green lawn.
The project took fruition again in 2015 when we acquired an ideal ‘Nursery Site’ where we began the planting of seeds and seedlings of a variety of vegetables.
The Veggie Patches:
In mid 2015 I was lured (in a positive way) into meeting a colleague and friend of a client/friend. During discussions about sharing office space which included a tour, we arrived at the four fallow Vegetable Patches which had been this way for four years. Noticing my excitement at the vegetable patches, I was offered them for growing my own vegetables. I explained the project in brief to the two colleagues and so it was decided that the Veggie Patches were ‘mine’.
I could barely contain my excitement as the benefits of having the resources, equipment and a large part of the work already complete would spearhead the ‘Grow to Give to Grow’ project into being very viable by spring (September 2015). I accepted the offer of use of the space, equipment, borehole water and, if needed the gardener as required to resurrect the poverty alleviation project which had lain fallow for a year.
Veggie Patches:: I immediately began to plan the project’s next steps to alleviating poverty within the immediate area as soon as possible with a goal of growing out from there based on what we now had at our fingertips and what we would still need to acquire to further the project into making sure nobody ever goes hungry again.
We acquired several crates – the deep kind – which may not suffice for some of the plants : to start our trials. The layering of the interior of the crate will be whatever we can find, that would be available freely ‘on the street’.
a) Plastic Bag that already has holes in, lining the bottom two – three layers is best, Newspaper, with Plastic lining the crate sides to half way.
b) T-Shirts or Clothes with too many holes, again, line with newspaper : Line half way up.
- Fill to 3/4 of the way up with composted soil (provided / created in a central composting area)
- Epsom Salts – two shakes (to be donated)
- Water (to be harvested with ‘water tanks + pipes + gutters’)
The Ambassadors are ‘of the people’ where there is a need for sustainable food sources, they have the trust, knowledge and understanding of their people’s idiosyncratic needs, likes, dislikes, restrictions and freedoms. Earning trust through involving and inspiring them to become an integral part of the Grow to Give to Grow project to lead the feeding of their people. Working in teams as large as is necessary to grow as quickly as possible.
Deliberate consciousness: Making a concerted effort to connect with the local people, I started with those working within the locality who were able to provide basic insights into the vegetables that they as a people, like to eat, the disruptions that they may suffer during growing, the obstacles to overcome, for example in harvesting water or theft of vegetables.
Gaining this valuable insight from Ambassadors of each area is imperative as each area and areas within areas all have their own idiosyncrasies with issues which could debilitate or destroy the project in that area, if not inserted with empathy and compassion for the people we want to enable.
- The planting plans,
- Seedling Types,
- Composting and
- veggie growing basics were investigated and plans instigated wherever possible.
More info to follow soon.
We began to see growth in one of the beds, of seeds that were tossed in as composting during the winter. This bed was left to flourish as nature would have it.
The beds were tilled & watered regularly whilst we continued to develop a sustainable, easy to replicate composting system.
More detailed info to follow soon
We began to repair the Vegetable Patch Barriers, fencing and brickwork as well as design a better construction for the shade cloth to make access to the vegetables more ergonomic.
Continuing with tilling the soil and watering, we watched the unknown seedlings sprouting in many directions. Finding similar leaves, we transplanted those that were sturdy enough into the ‘wild’ patch as it had been named.
More detailed info soon.
Once grown, the seedlings are planted into bottle crates using the compost made on site which are then distributed to the communities that need them most. We also provide training and guidance on growing vegetables as well as harvesting the seeds to grow to give to grow.
Photo updates of the vegetables we have successfully grown, those that failed and those we will be adding will be available soon.
Sadly our project has come to a grinding halt due to unforseen circumstances of the owner taking away our access to the vegetables we have grown, thus disabling our ability to continue the project. Hopefully their conscience will allow us to return to retrieve what we have grown & seeds from those plants we cannot move so that we are able to resurrect the project when a new, more sustainable site is found where we will not be disturbed in our mission to feed the hungry.
More photos of the progress of the project to date will follow soon.
Grow to Give to Grow
Although 2016 has started as a frustrating year, we are also very grateful for the progress we have made in the project thus far. The knowledge and skills we have gained have made all the pains we are currently experiencing less so, know we can and will resurrect the project, be more successful and begin to feed people within the next few months.
What we need:
- A piece of land with water – running preferably.
- Electricity and a Cottage.
- Ideally we would want to raise Free chickens for their eggs as an additional vitamin source for the needy, as well as using them for composting… The chickens that is… not the eggs. ( no rooster).
- Close vicinity to Cape Town or outlying suburbs / or Caribbean in St Maarten or anywhere in the world where we can make a difference by doing something of value every day.
We make our own compost, create our own irrigation system and raise the beds ourselves with whatever we have available to us. The one thing we do struggle with is shade cloth which comes at a cost but is very valuable in saving water and plants dying in extreme weather conditions.
What we want most is to make a positive difference to the lives of others every day. The project has every opportunity to see success in that what we need is all freely available. The only thing missing is the Nursery site from which to begin the project and maintain a central knowledge base on growing systems, irrigation systems and sustainable food sources that work through trial and error to grow the project across the continent.
Nelson Mandela :: The Father of Africa who brought us together,
The greatest glory in living lies not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall. – Nelson Mandela pic.twitter.com/pJVBY1guhj
— Rich Simmonds (@RichSimmondsZA) March 19, 2016