It’s that time of year. We’re getting some freak sunshine but essentially the little ones are back to school, the mornings are nippy and there are leaves crunching under our feet. Soon it’ll be pumpkins and bonfires but right now it’s Harvest festivals galore.
We used to love those at school. The same old hymns each year, big presentations of fruit and veg at the front of the hall and your mum scrabbling around for tins and packets to send in for the collection. What we at Children on the Edge love even more, is the celebration of harvest at our project in Jinja, Uganda, because it’s providing so much more than just food.
Food is a wonderful thing.. and the gardens we have as part of the project could pack out a harvest hamper very nicely. In fact with two rainy seasons here, we get two harvests! In the centre of a Soweto slum, our gardens are currently growing 12 different crops including cabbages, spinach, tomatoes, onions, carrots, green peppers, maize, beans, sweet potatoes and aubergines.
60% of this glorious food goes straight to our Child Friendly Space. The majority of the 140 children here are from child or grandparent headed households and highly vulnerable to chronic malnutrition. This food contributes to the nutritious breakfast and lunch that they now receive at the Centre each day. Another 20% is sold at the local market to create income for educational resources.
The remaining 20% of the harvest goes to the 25 community members who plant, tend and harvest the crops. They not only get to take it home for their families, but throughout the process they are provided with full training so that they can create their own crops in the future. Every 6 months they rotate with a new group of 25 people who benefit from the food and training.
Specialist training is given not only for those with small gardens and backyard but for those with no land at all. ‘Sack gardening’ techniques enable food growing in maize sacks, cans and old pots. Walking around Soweto, as more people are being resourced with this training, more ‘sack garden’ corners are springing to life. Not only this, but as the gardens pop up, the breweries are closing.
Before the project started the alcohol breweries were Soweto’s only source of income. Belching acrid smoke into the air and causing streams of black toxic sludge between the homes of the children we work with, the breweries are a destructive force. Children are at increased risk of inebriated men and prostitution and the more dependence there is on the breweries, the less investment goes into growing food.
Since our project has been set up, the food has been growing, the people have been gaining training and half of these breweries have been shut down. This is cause for a real harvest celebration. ‘The seed time and the harvest, our life, our health our food’.
Please feel free to find out more about the project in Uganda and consider donating.