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Food Security South Africa

FoodForward SA seeks to empower communities through food garden initiative

Recently, FoodFoward SA, a non-profit food redistribution organisation, unveiled two sustainable food gardens in Cape Town. I was invited to attend one of these launches at their offices in Lansdowne. There, we learnt about the company’s initiative, what they hope to achieve, and even got our hands dirty as we were allowed to assist with the planting of vegetables.
Image: Supplied (Left: Mo Salie, Andy Du Plessis, Arena Phillips and Cornel Jacobs)
Image: Supplied (Left: Mo Salie, Andy Du Plessis, Arena Phillips and Cornel Jacobs)

These gardens were created with specific goals in mind. Namely: the enhancement of food security, the implementation of more sustainable farming practices, and the stimulation of economic growth and empowerment within local communities.

Andy Du Plessis, managing director, stated that through this initiative, they want to ensure that those who participate, learn a skill, earn an income and can sustain their households.

To achieve this, the company grows its own seedlings with the intention of donating them free of charge. Once the vegetables have been harvested by the participants, FoodFoward SA buys back the produce. This ensures that the necessary skills have been learned and that there is a guarantee of income.

In conjunction with beneficiary companies, FoodForward SA has established a tunnel garden at its Lansdowne location. This is where we were able to observe the planting process and also participate.

FoodForward SA seeks to empower communities through food garden initiative

The aim of the tunnel garden is to foster seedlings, enabling them to contribute to local recipients’ food supply.

FoodForward SA seeks to empower communities through food garden initiative

FoodForward SA and sustainability

Du Plessis described the company’s work as “cultivating a sustainable ecosystem within our communities”.

According to the company’s website, one-third of food produced in South Africa goes to waste, while a large majority of its citizens suffer from food insecurity. Through FoodFoward SA’s initiatives, they are able to alleviate hunger while simultaneously reducing the impact of food waste on the environment. The surplus food used is obtained from farmers, manufacturers and retailers.

FoodForward SA seeks to empower communities through food garden initiative

With sustainability in mind, major organisations, such as Pick n Pay, have volunteered their services by offering to donate waste that could be used as compost in these gardens. Thereby, reducing their overall impact on the environment and encouraging the success of these schemes.

Work with marginalised communities

The company makes it a point to work with individuals who are members of marginalised groups, specifically the unemployed youth and women.

“We've enlisted a community development officer who is presently training and mentoring unemployed youth and women at three of our beneficiary organisations,” Du Plessis explains. “This initiative aims to promote self-sufficiency by imparting regenerative agriculture techniques to unemployed youth and women."

FoodForward SA seeks to empower communities through food garden initiative

With the use of quality, non-expired food, FoodForward SA seeks to strengthen and restore the communities that have been underserved.

The organisation manages to reach 920,000 vulnerable individuals per day through its network of vetted beneficiaries. And with each meal costing R0.47, its model is seen as the most cost-effective solution to food insecurity.

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