by With Sa Good News

Tswelopele's first crop

Community farming project bears fruit

Tswelopele community farming project has already sold 11 000 heads of cabbage.
cabbage farm.jpg

The Tswelopele (which means "moving ahead" in Setswana) community farming project, which was launched in May, has produced its first crop in a small-scale trial.

The project is located on three hectares of land near Magaliesburg in Gauteng province. The land was donated by the adjacent Bekker High School, which runs the project in collaboration with Kops Communications & Projects and Mutual & Federal. The school also provides ongoing technical support, water and electricity.

The community owns and benefits from the project. The produce grown is their food supply, while they also sell the excess to the Bekker School and other interested parties.

The community comprises general assistance staff at the school and their families, who live on the school grounds.

To date, the project has produced hundreds of chickens and sold 11 000 heads of cabbage on one-quarter of the arable land.

Most of the first crop was sent to the Johannesburg Fresh Produce Market, while a portion was tasted by the stakeholders of the project.

The trial was to smooth out production, marketing and selling aspects, according to Kopane Lebethe of Kops Communications & Projects.

The project now aims to expand into the three additional fields. A quarter of the land will be reserved for the 55 families of the community.

These families will be allowed to plant four out of the seven crops identified as being suitable for the farm, on a plot of 16 m2. Beetroot, carrots, sweet potato and spinach will be harvested later.

The project will also be able to introduce poultry farming in future. Mutual & Federal will be funding the project for the next three years so that it can become self-sustaining.

Says Lebethe, "This project’s focus extends to far more than putting food on the tables. The community upliftment will cover other needs such as bursaries, but only once the farm has built up reserves equal to at least two years’ expenses.

"The risk of drought or crop disease in agriculture are such that at least this buffer is necessary before one can begin to regard production as sustainable. In farming, it is very easy for a year’s production to be wiped out," Lebethe said.


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