Mqanduli is a village close to Mthatha in the Eastern Cape. The area was named after a nearby hill of Xhosa origin meaning grindstone maker. Umtiza Farmer`s corp is the only agricultural supply company operating in this poorest part of the eastern cape where developing sustainable agricultural systems is widely regarded as holding the best hope of stimulating growth, reduce diseases related to malnutrition and alleviating poverty.
Hence, the introduction of No Dig permaculture concepts by Operation Hunger.
The first garden that we now call Mqanduli Pilot No Dig Permaculture Demonstration garden was established at Mqanduli Community Health centre in June 2017. It was after seeing the way sick people were flocking to the local clinic for treatment of diet related chronic diseases such diabetes, hypertension, osteoarthritis and many others.
Designing a garden that was less demanding in terms of labour and resources. A garden that was purely organic with a diverse of high nutrient crops produced from natural seeds that were free from toxic fertilizers, pesticides and agrichemicals. That was the No Dig garden method.
Making raised beds from pallets
Making nursery pots by recycling empty yogurt and traditional beer containers
Upon the completion of the pilot garden, Operation Hunger organised a community gathering on Mandela day where the community and local stakeholders were invited to come and witness the occasion. There was discussions on the issue of chronic diseases being caused by poor nutrition, wrong eating habits and overuse of prescription medication and agrichemicals and on how synthetic fertilizers, pesticides and genetically engineered foods contribute in the development of certain lifestyle diseases.
Operation Hunger then demonstrated production and use of specific herbs and vegetables to control certain chronic.
A lot of people and organisations present that day were inspired and vowed to have the same gardens established at their places. That was the birth of two more demonstration gardens at Wilo clinic and Mbekweni Health centre.
Using waste material to design no dig gardens: Used pallets for raised beds, cardboard for sheet mulching and grass for compost
The use of high nutrient compost material from domestic animals such as poultry and sheep caused some of the projects being implemented under the auspices of Operation Hunger to venture into poultry projects such as Masimanyane, Ekukwezeni and Thanga. These projects are slowly coming up and with proper support they have the ability to change their livelihoods and community health for better.
The gardens are weed free, self-regenerative and health enhancing due to the diverse range of high nutrient organic crops in one garden. Growing a mixture of herbs, vegetables and fruits and edible weeds go a long way in promoting healthy livelihoods, alleviating poverty, hunger and diseases and that’s what we are doing. With such developments people are beginning to understand the significance of self-help initiatives and healthy eating behaviours.
A flourishing pilot demonstration garden with herbs, vegetables, small fruiting plants, traditional super food and spices.