As a project coordinator for numerous food gardens in the Free State, Nelly Komape felt she couldn’t encourage the community of Parys to grow their own produce if she wasn’t doing the same. As a result the Mmakomape Home Gardening was born in November 2019, with Shoprite coming on board as a partner in October 2020.
Nelly, her husband and two children, together with a few other community members, operate two garden sites – one from Nelly’s home and another from a church property, both of which are supported by Shoprite.
“A local priest offered for us to start a second garden on the church property so that people who visit the church can see first-hand the benefits of having a food garden. There we’ve grown spinach, onions, chillies, tomatoes, pumpkin, mealies, cabbage, carrots, ochre and beetroot,” explains Nelly.
In recognition of their hunger relief efforts, Shoprite is assisting Mmakomape Home Gardening with 18 months of training, as well as gardening tools, seedlings, compost and an irrigation system at the church site.
“We’ve gained so much through Shoprite, including training workshops on permaculture, garden design and pest and weed control. We are now even making our own compost which will be ready for use later this year, and we know more about raising beds and even understand how intercropping works,” says Nelly.
The fresh organic produce from these two gardens have helped provide a lifeline for disadvantaged community members and children at a local creche during the extreme hardships experienced in 2020. Nelly is now also selling produce to reinvest in her food gardens, so that she can continue to support families in the area.
One of the things Nelly is most excited about is the water tank her project will be receiving from Shoprite. She explains, “We struggle with water in Parys. I currently go out and source water from a local well with 25 litre buckets around three times a day. Shoprite has agreed to assist with a 10 000 litre water tank, and we can’t wait. When the tank is here it will really change my life and better our farming.”
Having grown up on a farm, Nelly has always had a passion for produce: “It was my family’s hectares of maize meal, pumpkin and beans that helped to educate me. Those crops paid for my schooling and university education.”
She dreams of sharing this passion by one day expanding Mmakomape Home Gardening to open a farming academy and to educate future generations about the relationship between food gardens and food security.