Two years ago while they were unemployed, five friends had an idea that changed their lives and benefited their community. Sizwe Nyuka (26), Abonga Tom (24), Lonwabo Mfenguza (23), Loyiso Hulushe (23) and Bonani Joni (24) decided that it was high time Khayelitsha went green, and launched Ekasi Project Green. It’s an urban farming project aimed at turning everyone in their community into a small scale farmer. This way, everyone would eat fresh produce without feeling the pinch in their food budget.
Where it all started
“We had just finished high school, and couldn’t find jobs,” says Bonani. “We approached the principal at Vuzamanzi Primary School asking if we could use some of their land to start a vegetable garden. In return, we would offer some vegetables to the school’s feeding scheme.” In the end, the project became about helping the entire community eat fresh by growing their own vegetables. “We supply them with manure and seedlings, and hold workshops that focus on the benefits of growing your own vegetables. We’re also available to help with maintaining gardens,” adds Lonwabo.
Last year, Sizwe and Loyiso represented Ekasi Project Green at the Eating City Summer campus in France. They were among 42 participants gathered to discuss all things farming and food related. “We made valuable connections and got to hear other people’s stories,” says Sizwe, adding that event inspired them to find kinder ways of farming. “We now plant food in a way that will not harm the environment.”
Plans for the future
“We would love to grow Ekasi to other townships in Cape Town like Guguletu and Langa. We want to get more young people involved in gardening and get more land. We are also targeting the Eastern Cape.” Sizwe and Ayabonga are currently doing an internship at Surplus People’s Project in Cape Town where they are learning about social mobilisation and agricology. Through the organisation, they are working with other small scale farmers and farm workers to get land from the government.
Keep up with Kasi Project Green on Facebook.
This story was first published on Red Bull Amaphiko.