Mangede — Backyard garden a tremendous success
Being retrenched, disabled and dependent on a meagre social grant, are no reason for one to despair in life.
Mr Christopher Zwane from Thandukukhanya Township in Piet Retief, is a living testimony to that idiom as he has showcased with his very successful backyard food gardening project at his very home.
He irks a living out of producing such quality vegetable products, that upmarket supermarket, Spar in his hometown, relies on him to supply them with the much-needed products. As is, Zwane has earned success to such an extent that he holds two medals for his feat from the department of agriculture during 2007 and 2008, respectively.
He is an integral part of the provincial government’s Comprehensive Rural Development Programme (CRDP), which, not only develops farming on farms, but backyard food gardens are part of its programme to further alleviate poverty among communities.
Situated in the old location side, one is attracted by the leafy veggies surrounding his entire home which range from cabbages, beetroot, carrots, spinach and lettuce. “I started around 2000 after receiving training for six months by an organisation from Potchefstroom.
“At the time, we were a group of community members in a farming project, with the sole aim of owning a big plot from which we would have produced these products. Unfortunately, all the farms we had targeted, had already been claimed by their beneficiaries.
“I was never deterred by that factor, as I utilised the little land I have here at home, my backyard and it has yielded results. Spar in town became dependent on my lettuce and spinach which I produced from here, the backyard.
“Another factor to my advantage, is that I’m very close to families in this township, who will depend on me for their veggies. I’ve also trained six families in the art of vegetable farming and they are developing well and always check on progress frequently,” explains Zwane.
Through the department of agriculture’s CRDP, he receives such assistance as insecticides to spray his plants, supervision from Extension Officers who monitor his progress and needs, but feels he needs more attention be paid unto backyard food gardeners, as they are the ones who alleviate poverty right on one’s door-step.
How does he succeed to produce such quality products?
“It is garnered through the notion that upmarket supermarkets like Spar, strictly require quality and fresh products. It is also through Bayer’s chemical products, fertilizer 2.3.2 (22) and lime which I’ve followed strict instructions on how to apply them to my plants, for good growth. None of my plants have holes because of the good maintenance,” he points out.
He emphatically discloses that his food garden is in production throughout the year and applies the crop rotation principle strictly in order to maintain his soil’s fertility, always.
His monthly turn-over from his home selling is between R450 to R600, and on that particular day he had just sold R84-worth of spinach.
Zwane is married with five children, but remains hands-on his garden.
“I still cherish the dream of one day owning a farm to increase my productivity and market share, but will also add poultry farming to it all,” he ends.
Living your dream is a reality indeed.