Woolworths Trust and Absa invest in local food security

Ahead of World Food Day (this Saturday, 16th October), the Woolworths Trust has announced that it has joined forces with Absa to invest R1 million as co-sponsors of the Siyakhana Food Garden Project in Bezuidenhout Park, Johannesburg. Siyakhana is an innovative urban agricultural project established by the Public Oral Health and Health Promotion Units of Wits University.

John Xmulo is Siyakhana’s full time gardener and has been working on the project for 9 months.

On the 16th of October, the United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) commemorates World Food Day, and the 2010 theme is United Against Hunger. It comes at a time when rising food prices and looming food shortages are gaining heightened focus from different sectors of our society. Local and sustainable food production is highlighted as an antidote to a global food system that has always fallen short of food security for all.

The Siyakhana Food Garden Project is a model of community food gardening using permaculture principles and methods to produce fresh vegetables, fruit and herbs. It also serves as an education centre, providing capacity-building workshops that transfer skills in permaculture design and practice, as well as showing others how to generate income from local and sustainable food production. Produce from the Siyakhana Food Garden Project is distributed to a coalition of Home-Based Care initiatives and Early Childhood Development Centres providing essential services to indigent inner-city residents.

Sarah Masahala with some of the dried herbs they give to local peopl .The rest is sold and the money goes back into the gardens development.

All across the world, community food gardening using natural systems farming techniques is increasingly regarded as a vital strategy to enhance food security and sustainability. Woolworths has long supported this view with its historic support of EduPlant, a national programme, co-ordinated by Food and Trees for Africa, which assists schools in developing permaculture food gardens. EduPlant involves thousands of teachers, parents, children and community members in the production of vegetables, herbs, fruit and medicinal plants on  school grounds for the benefit of learners and the wider community. The Woolworths Trust is commemorating World Food Day with the creation of a virtual ‘Living Wall‘ that showcases a permaculture design for a vertical container food garden. Visitors are invited to join the effort to enhance food security in South Africa by planting a seedling of their choice on the Woolworths Trust Living Wall. Every seedling planted on the website will be a real seedling donated by the Woolworths Trust to an under-resourced school with a permaculture food garden.

Promise Hlongwane is a volunteer at the Siyakhana Food Garden project.

Petros Mncube with some strawberries he just picked . He has been working full time at Siyakhana for 4 years.

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7 Responses to Woolworths Trust and Absa invest in local food security

  1. rike October 15, 2010 at 10:38 am #

    Now if only Woolworths committed to only buying from local organic producers…

  2. mol-d October 15, 2010 at 11:04 am #

    where do they buy from?

  3. rike October 15, 2010 at 12:02 pm #

    A lot of their fresh produce is imported. Have a closer look at the packaging. Baby spinach from kenya etc. Maybe if they bought locally they could also avoid all the cold storage and excessive packaging.

  4. mol-d October 15, 2010 at 1:33 pm #

    agreed. but at least they are promoting / supporting permaculture initiatives.. this and http://www.woolworthslivingwall.co.za/.. even if it does equate to self-promotion… they could import food and do nothing…

  5. khalid October 15, 2010 at 2:59 pm #

    i am with mol-d on that.
    woolies claims to donate unsold foodstuff apparently.
    maybe local produce will be more competitively priced.
    though…the sabrosa strawberries….from spain… are predictably sweet.and thats hard to say no to:)
    Schweet!

  6. rike October 15, 2010 at 9:36 pm #

    Of course its good that they do a little something, but they could always do more. A lot of their sustainability stuff is a greenwashing marketing exercise. But they should keep getting caught out – the more people comment and question, the more responsible they have to become.

  7. shaggy October 18, 2010 at 10:26 am #

    I agree with Rike, being organic but importing your produce from so many miles away defeats the whole purpose of being sustainable.

    This is often the problem nowadays with organic products in mainstream supermarkets. Consumers don’t look closely enough at labels and are also very easily fooled by effective ‘greenwash’ marketing.

    Ironically, most consumers don’t realise that they actualy hold the most power in their hands. Their money. They can choose to not buy products that are not local, if enough people do this, the shop will not buy imported products.

    People need to become aware of the power of their choice, and exert it to force retailers into becoming truly sustainable.

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