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Community garden thrives

“No matter how hard things get, I have a stubborn heart. Help will come. This garden is all I have... and hope.”

These are the words of Willem Papier (65) who has been involved with the Langebaan Community Gardens (LCG) since it was started in 2017.

The LCG aims to promote social and economic development. “The Saldanha Bay Municipality adopted an Urban Agriculture Policy in April 2017 and launched its Urban Gardening Initiative in hopes of it contributing towards food security by improving the quality, affordability, and accessibility of the food intake of the poor and middle-income households,” says Charmaine Laubscher, DA branch chairperson for Ward 6, who became involved with the initiative in July.

In July 2017, the initial group of 24 small farmers from the Langebaan community entered into a memorandum of agreement with the municipality for the use of vacant municipal land located in Ward 14, for gardening purposes.

Now, 29 months later, eight small farmers remain and the project continues – primarily due to the resilient spirits of these elderly gardeners who refuse to give up.

The hope with the garden was also to address unemployment by providing opportunities for entrepreneurship, and so the potential of an income and a reduction in poverty levels currently experienced by communities.

“The success thus far has partially been due to the commitment of the dedicated farmers, who have faced insurmountable odds,” says Laubscher, and adds, “no one knew what was happening behind the shabby green shade netting, when we went to investigate we found the farmers struggling without complaining.”

After becoming familiar with their processes Laubscher enlisted the help of the Department of Agriculture and SBM and says there now is hope for those involved.

The group also invited the MEC of Agriculture, Dr Ivan Meyer to the Urban Garden, who was according to Laubscher, quite impressed with the work the farmers had done thus far.

“The Minister said these farmers are an example to others as they have survived thus far mostly through their own devices. He committed to supporting the Urban Garden with training.”

Meyer also thanked Laubscher for her commitment to helping the small farmers by being their voice, saying: “A farmer needs a voice.”

The group’s goal is to become a tourist attraction and add to the town’s economy.

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