Soon after joining Star Uplifting Centre for Disabled Youth as the Project Manager, Zoleka Khakana together with her colleagues established a food garden at the centre. “I’ve always loved growing crops. As a child, my mother made sure I had a plot to plough and cultivate. It’s in my blood.We were motivated by a single goal: to grow enough to feed our young residents and produce a small surplus to sell on to the community” said Khakana.
The Star Uplifting Centre staff feeds over 60 disabled children who receive three nutritious meals, seven days a week. With their hard work, the garden was soon producing healthy crops of cabbage, spinach, carrot, beetroot and lettuce along with seedlings.Khakana and her team also empower some of their more physically-able children by teaching them valuable gardening skills they can use in later life.
Over time, Khakana realized the garden was too small to meet the growing demand so they had to find creative ways to increase capacity and output within the same area. With support from Shoprite, and guidance from Food & Trees for Africa, Khakana and her team implemented a series of smart solutions, such as vertical growing spaces and tyre stacks to grow potatoes.
The team also identified new areas around the Centre to expand their planting area and received training in permaculture practices to ensure the garden could keep producing fruit and vegetable crops for longer each year.