We need to do something.
We need to stop blaming the government when we are also capable of making a difference that can help improve our communities. I have a solution that I want to share with you and you can decide if you want to help this project grow. It absolutely depends on people taking action on a local basis.
It’s no secret we have an issue with poverty and a big political debate over land. My mission is to create an example of an alternative way to approach the issues around poverty, including access to healthy food, safe living, and access to resources usually reserved for people that have more disposable income.
However, the first part of this process starts in our own backyards….literally. What I’m starting is a garden that is aimed towards growing in excess of what my family needs. This excess will be donated to people in need within the community in the form of care packages in December, along with donated non-perishables. We can help a small (or large) group of families to live a little easier at the beginning (or start) of the year and it could set the tone for the next day, week, month, or even year.
A lot of us do have yard space that isn’t serving a purpose. It’s a waste, really. One thing we have lost touch with is the simple process of growing our own food. Okay, maybe it’s not always “simple” but we are capable if we learn how. It doesn’t matter if you have a small apartment or lack of grass. I promise you that we can find a way you can grow something successfully. We also waste a lot of our free time due to screen time, not feeling comfortable being out and about when things are increasingly unsafe, or otherwise avoiding being productive. I’ve found a way we can make a difference by making use of both of these areas in our lives.
I’m asking you to plant gardens with me with the intention of generating excess food to give away. You can do it on your own or contribute towards our efforts, but I promise you that if we work together with each other as a neighborhood, we can make a positive change without being dependent on the government. We can improve living conditions for the people that are struggling the most. We can also show that the entire community is important.
See, I have a far less biased opinion of the politics and dramatics going on in South Africa, so I have more of an outsider’s perspective. It really looks like more people are investing energy into finger pointing than doing something about things. This project that I’m undertaking won’t be just about food. This is the ground floor of something bigger I’m working on because I do love South Africa. I have a newborn niece to now look after and I want her to know a different version of South Africa with a more positive narrative. I want to help deter what keeps fueling people to leave the country for good due to frustration and fear. I want to show you that we can grow up now.
So if you’re willing to listen, we can do this together. Even if one person decides to come on board, I’d be proud. But I’m doing this regardless of whether or not anyone helps. If people decide to be on board and want to support the project, then it helps broaden the reach of something I want to make a functional part of all of our communities.
Let me introduce you to “From Farms To Futures: An initiative to rebuild South Africa”.
I’ve been living in South Africa for 6 years now. I’ve been married a year now and we’re currently raising our newborn niece. We have a modest home, pets, and a strangely blended family. Since I’ve been unable to work and look after a baby I had to make a very difficult decision to focus on the baby, the home and try to write in my spare time. It’s been a struggle, but I am at the point where I see the light at the end of the tunnel.
Having a baby in the home full-time kind of forces you to look at life differently. A newborn needs patience and gentle care. Where my life had been a lot of rushing around and trying to stay above water, I also lacked my own identity. Sure, I was a wife and stepmom but what was my life really going to be about?
What happened was that this child made me realize that I had to do something about whatever it is that made me feel hesitant to raise a child here. Every day I hear about child abductions and government corruption claims. I had a gun pointed in my face in March when my husband and I were held up in a parking garage in Fourways, which led to a shootout with security and the police going on record saying “it was a hoax”, despite everyone having footage of the incident. I was given an unethically hard time when I wanted to plant my roots here, and all I want is for this country to thrive. I might be American, but my heart is in South Africa.
I think people are relying too much on a knight in shining armor when we are totally capable of resolving some of the problems from within our own communities. I’m aware we can’t change everything, but we can make some key improvements without waiting for someone else to do it. We can learn to connect with our neighbours and do something to lend some support to those who aren’t as strong in a way that will actually empower them, not just get through another day.
If you are willing to dedicate a small (or large) piece of your home to have a dedicated garden, I would love to speak with you. I would love to create a seed bank for people to either donate to or take from so we can have a perpetual supply of resources. If you’re willing to donate plants but don’t want to grow them yourself, please get in touch with me. I’ll be happy to either grow them myself or find people that have volunteered to grow. If you don’t have the funds to get the basics, I can offer to help get your garden started if you can commit to maintaining it. If you are struggling for food and would like to grow your own, please let me know and I will get you started. If you don’t know how to go about setting up a garden or your yard needs some TLC before it can be viable, please let me know. I will come, with volunteers, to help you clean up your garden and get it started.
It’s time we start rebuilding, and it starts in our backyards.
You can do this on your own, of course, but the more we work together, the more successful this can be. If you can participate, it’s important to reach out as soon as possible so we can all take advantage of the rainy months and have a decent harvest by the end of the year. If you don’t have time, energy, or ability to maintain your garden, we can try to set you up with a someone in the neighborhood that can help you once in a while with general maintenance. Your garden will be what works for you and your needs.
If none of these options appeal to you, maybe consider shopping locally. Get those roadside avos and oranges. Pick out some of that gorgeous beadwork to give as a gift- those are incredibly elaborate pieces. Haggle in the small market. Show some support to those who are pushing to live a productive life and might be struggling a bit more than we are. Show that you care. Inspire change.
This is a very small step in a big plan to get a grip on South Africa. There is no reason we can’t do a little more than just hand out change or food from time to time. We need to help support our weakest before we can be strong again, and this is a very simple way to get that forward momentum we badly need. It’s up to us whether this impacts a few lives or the direction this country is headed in. Will you do this with me? Will you help create the change we need for our children?
How can I help?
We are entirely self-funded and supplied at this stage, so we’re working the best we can with our means. With that said, there are many ways you can participate with us:
Bricks, cinderblocks, pallets, fertilizer, soil, plants, seeds, equipment and non-perishables to go towards supplementing the fresh produce- if you have any of these to spare, please let us know. If you have land you would like to donate to become a neighborhood garden, we especially would love to hear from you. It will all help our efforts to expand the project, especially when it comes to helping other people establish their gardens. Monetary donations for supplies and stock are also accepted- please contact me directly to enquire.
- Start a garden
Join us in starting a garden in your backyard (or wherever else is suitable). It can be as big or small as you would like, and if you are struggling to set up or figure out the best garden for the space you have, we can help you. Just reach out and we’ll see how we can guide you through the process.
Are you willing to help neighbors set up gardens or see that someone may need assistance? Let us know, and we’d love to talk to you. We need folks that wouldn’t mind lending a hand to others in their own neighborhood and it will help to have a roster available. If enough people sign on to volunteer we’ll start a separate group to communicate with those parties and coordinate how we can make this program flourish locally.
- Spread the word
Follow us on social media and share the message with people that you think would be interested in participating. Share our posts. Tag us on pictures of your efforts. Get the word out there that we are looking for more people that want to make a meaningful difference.
- Learn how to grow your own food
Maybe you want to learn how to grow your own food because it would also help supplement your own home. Let us know if you need to learn the basics and we’ll be more than happy to help either in person or via a video chat. It’s 2018- we can share knowledge any number of ways!
- Speak up if you need help
It’s just as important to us that you are not lost in the shuffle. Reach out. Email, inbox, comment. If you need help or know someone who does, get them in touch with us. We want to help, and we can find a way to bring you the support you need.
- Represent your neighborhood
Want to be an ambassador for change? Do you want to push for this initiative in your province? Let us know, and we’d love to support you as best as we can. Let’s build a team and network that can bring some more positivity to our country.
Whether it’s just once or an ongoing thing, find people within your community that you know could benefit from a care package of fresh produce and even some non-perishables. Or you can leave it to us and donate your offerings and we’ll make sure they’re distributed in a way where we can impact as many families as possible. We are pushing to have a large number of donations towards the end of the year when most things will be ready for harvesting so we can impact how many families will be spending the end of the year struggling for food. The more people we have on board and giving, the better, and it will help us be able to do this more frequently. With enough of a collective impact, we can harness these efforts to establish food pantries long term.
I’m going to push forward with what I can do for this project with my own resources and in my own neighborhood, but the more people that come on board or contribute, the more lives we can positively impact. Let’s be honest here: South Africa is limping along right now. Everyone is busy debating what to do with land and farmers and issues with power and housing when we all have the power to help lift up others in our own communities. Why aren’t we empowering those who need reinforcement and teaching them how they can become strong, thriving individuals in a more collective community effort?
If you want to know more about the bigger picture, feel free to reach out and I’d love to speak with you about the long-term objectives that Farms To Futures has in store and learn how you want to help this evolve.