Located in the marginalized side of Grahamstown, is a local non-profit organization that is changing the lives of Grahamstown residents. Umthathi Community Gardens, in Location 7, aims to teach the community how to manage their own organic gardens and how to live healthier lives, with limited resources.
Sustainable farming, even on a small scale, can greatly improve the standard of living for vulnerable people. Umthathi aims to provide the community with invaluable skills that can aid with employment as well as self-sufficiency. A significant portion of the community are unemployed and programs such as these can help provide nourishment and food security that families need. Health issues such as HIV/AIDS are also prevalent, and a healthy organic diet is important in maintain one’s well being.
Umthathi reaches out to the youth and encourages them to engage with organic farming. Programme support officer, Thandapiwa Fumo says, “We also go to different schools to teach them about healthy living and organic plantation with the hope that they will disseminate the information to the community and home.”
“We feel grateful to have programs like these in the community because they also play an integral role in alleviating poverty,” says SAPS’s (South African Police Service) Col. Mbulelo Phika.
The programme has support from government and the community. Department of Rural Development and Agrarian Reform, Nontsikelelo Katshaza, said, “We have Siyazondla programme where we give the community gardening equipment such as wheelbarrows, jojo tanks and seeds.” But this is just the beginning. With the support of the wider Grahamstown community, Umthathi can increase its positive impact on the lives of all residents as well as instil a culture of self-sustainability and healthy living.
One of the many training projects hosted by Umthathi was Masilimeni, which intended to improve the standard of living of marginalised communities by encouraging healthy lifestyles, diets and self-sufficiency.