By NOBUHLE ZULU and ATHULE MKHULI
“We must go back to doing what our ancestors did because we can’t afford to buy fertilizer from Russia anymore,” says Dr Garth Cambray.
Makhanda residents gathered at the Umthathi Training Centre on Tuesday for the Food Sovereignty Learning Exchange event, a collaboration between the Makana Residents’ Association, the Department of Social Development, and the Makhanda Circle of Unity, and the Umthathi Training Project Trust.
Phumeza Mtingi and Avule Bika from Umtathi said the event aimed to unite the Makhanda community and encourage them to plant their own food.
Cambray talked about the nutritional benefits of indigenous plants, urging the community to plant the seeds of indigenous spinach, pumpkin and father/winter beans in their gardens. He also gave the audience tips on stretching their budgets using plants by, for example, mixing the father bean with minced meat to make burger patties.
Bongiwe Ngwenya and Bridget Letswalo, dieticians from Settlers Hospital, gave tips on choosing nutritional food and how to cook it correctly. They said buying food in season was a great way to save money.
Chris Engelbrecht from the Department of Social Development spoke about what her department was doing to support local gardeners. Prof Lausanne Olvitt from the Makhanda Circle of Unity Food Cluster lamented that residents were losing the ability to grow good and healthy food.
An elderly community member said after she and her neighbour received SMS invites to the event, they had decided to attend to receive gardening tools and more seeds for their home gardens. But, she said the knowledge she received would also be of excellent use to her.
There was a lot of engagement from the community. People were asking questions and adding their knowledge to some speakers’ words.
After the event, residents took small bags of seeds to plant in their gardens.