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gardening in south africa


Hello fellow gardeners,

Greetings from South Africa, where we are just now entering the the
summer season and are happily watching the crops come up.  I am an
American student (Earlham College/Indiana) who is spending this semester
at the Quaker Peace Centre working with their Community Development
programme.  They have three seperate community gardens in the "Cape
Flats,"  a very sandy, poor area outside Cape Town.  Needless to say, it
is amazing to go into these areas, where there is little vegetation and
many people live in shacks, and see gardens full of green vegetables
growing.  The sight gives me a lot of hope.

I am interested in getting advice from people who have worked to
establish community gardens in very poor communities.  It is budget time
here at the Peace Centre, and so finances are taking center stage.
Right now, the community gardens serve families with no breadwinner,
many of whom live in informal housing.  The gardens are far from
self-sustaining.  Up to know the aim of the program has been to
alleviate poverty, it is beyond its scope to eliminate it.  Food from
the community gardens feed their families, and the surplus can be sold
for a profit, but not enough profit is earned to maintain the gardens.
Consequently, the project is dependant on funds from QPC.  The program
trains people so that they have the skills to grow their own food, but
unless it continues to provide resources (land, water, manure and
compost) people cannot continue to use and benefit from these skills.
Compounding the problem, land is scarce (no backyards to garden in) and
the sandy soil requires a lot of manure and compost.

Any input would be greatly appreciated.  E-mail me at
thomaar@earlham.edu

Cheers,
Arden Thomas

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