We won 2nd prize in Eastern Cape competition “Female Farmer of the Year 2015”
Our group of female farmers was formed in 2013, when we five women thought about how to fight poverty in our homes. In our community there are hardly any jobs, we all are poor and many drop out from school because they are unable to meet school fees. So this group helps us to do and to learn something useful as well as to get an income for our survival.
In our Xhosa culture, women are not understood as equal to men. Within Ikhaya Loxolo, women and men are equal, only separated from each other by work experience and skills, never due to gender. Outside Ikhaya Loxolo our group is challenged by these old traditions and customs, where women are not known to be leaders, changers of the future and developers.
Men as well as other women therefore have and had to get used to being led, trained, taught and changed by our group of women.
We first started volunteering at Ikhaya Loxolo’s gardens and farm at different times, some as early as 2005, learning agricultural skills that are otherwise unavailable anywhere else in our rural area. We were taught about organic garden and farming and how we can train and develop skills in our mainly mentally impaired children and youth living at Ikhaya Loxolo
Our communities are so interested in us because they get fresh food and they learn about the different types of vegetables and herbs and how to use them. People in our community never knew e.g. lettuce or eggplant before but they do now because of us. They now order and buy vegetable seedlings from us, which otherwise would be unavailable in our area. We have helped hundreds of households to start their gardens by selling up to 8000 vegetable seedlings every month in these communities.
Presently we daily feed about 60 people at Ikhaya Loxolo with our produce, we sell locally as well as to the Haven Hotel and to the doctors at Madwaleni Hospital. Supermarkets in Elliotdale and Mthatha want our produce but would need bigger quantities.
Our gardens at Ikhaya Loxolo can be extended so that
- we can train more women in organic and water-wise gardening
- our mentally impaired youth can find meaningful work on a long-term basis
- Ikhaya Loxolo increases their income to be long-term sustainable
The biggest achievement for our group so far has been to win second prize in the government competition “Female Farmer of the Year 2015 Awards”.
Just to be connected to the Department of Agriculture and working together with them (we are ongoingly invited to participate in agricultural competitions) is a great success.
How we work: We use a system where we rotate 10m x 10m garden beds, filling 2 beds per month with about 4000 vegetable seedlings, arriving at the same squares again after 4 months. This not only means having crops of all ages in the garden at all times, but also that all beds need to be enriched with manure and compost three times a year.
At Ikhaya Loxolo we are represented in the management group and part of decision making.
Written by Monica Mgonondi