Alternative Agriculture

This summer I had the incredible opportunity to spend some time in the townships surrounded Johannesburg, South Africa. While visiting, we had the opportunity to see (and even assist) some incredible agricultural solutions taking place in some of the poorest areas of the country.

In some of the areas we worked, the ground was parched and little grass grew around the small tin homes. However, the people were doing something incredible: growing door-sized gardens. Just inside the barbed wire surrounding each miniature plot of land, there was a garden of perhaps 3-4 rows of vegetables. Lettuce heads and even corn grew behind these little homes, giving families a source to fresh produce they may not have otherwise. In some townships, there are larger community gardens cared for by several families.

Another project we learned about was “sack gardening.” In particular, we visited a small ministry feeding 300-450 children daily, basically out of thin air. A unique way they gather food is by having each child recycle a food sack (previously for potatoes or corn or rice) and use it as a pot. Filled with soil, the children can grow their own bag of kale, a vegetable that provides many nutrients they may not usually have in their diet.

Small projects, when adopted by an entire community, can really make a difference in the health, and food security of an entire population. Just a door sized garden, or kale grown in a sack can have a tremendous impact on poverty levels and nutrition.

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