WORKSHOP ON URBAN MICRO-FARMING AND HIV-AIDS Johannesburg – Cape Town, South Africa 15-26 August 2005


By Jeunesse Park FOOD & TREES FOR AFRICA (FTFA) Gauteng, South Africa

July 2005

INTRODUCTION TO FOOD & TREES FOR AFRICA AND ITS ACTIVITIES FOOD & TREES FOR AFRICA (FTFA), is a non profit non government public benefit organisation established in 1990. Currently there are 15 full time employees and a varying number of sub contractors and volunteers. FTFA develops, manages and promotes greening, sustainable natural resource management and food security programmes. FTFAs programmes contribute to poverty alleviation, improved environments, capacity building and skills development, increasingly for People affected by Aids (PWAs). FTFAs mission is to work in partnership with government, the private and public sectors and civil society to improve the quality of life and environments for all communities of South Africa. In the past 14 years FTFA has distributed over 2 million trees and helped to set up over 500 organic gardens for the poorest in South Africa. With the support of funders and the endorsement and cooperation of government FTFA implements four programmes, each with many projects. All FTFAs programmes are aimed at under resourced and underserved communities across South Africa. FTFA is implementing the following programmes: Trees for Homes, The Urban Greening Fund, EduPlant and Permaculture Food Gardens. The Urban Greening Fund (UGF) is a basket fund that supports partnerships for sustainable development through tree planting, parks and food gardening projects, as well as environmental awareness and education. The UGF aims to: • Respond to NGOs and local government willing to implement Urban Greening projects that will improve quality of life and • Alleviate socio economic and environmental poverty • Build capacity, including business plan development • Facilitate partnerships between various tiers of government, NGOs and CBOs to expedite delivery and ensure sustainability of projects EduPlant is the national school gardening and greening program motivating schools and their communities to address poverty alleviation, greening, food security, capacity building and skills development. Benefits for schools: • Better nutrition and less dependence on feeding schemes • Unemployed parents and community members benefit from garden produce • Community outreach projects that provide food, trees and Permaculture assistance for hospices, HIV/AIDS patients, unemployed and indigent communities • Vastly increase their understanding of sustainable natural resource use and management and their environment. The Permaculture Food Gardens programme integrates ecology, landscape, organic gardening, architecture and agro-forestry to provide healthy food for all anywhere. The word permaculture comes from PERMAnent and AGRIculture. Permaculture creates sustainable food rich environments by following nature's patterns. Fresh vegetables, fruit and herbs build immune systems and help AIDS patients. FTFA’s Permaculture projects: • Teach schools and residents in low-income neighbourhoods how growing food improves diet and health, supplements income and saves on grocery bills • Address HIV / AIDS, health and nutrition


Communities wanting assistance to develop urban agriculture projects approach FTFA, who then seek funding from government, aid agencies or the private sector to respond to these requests.

LESSONS LEARNT The interest in urban agriculture is growing in South Africa especially with the high rate of unemployment, the high incidence of HIV/Aids and illness and the lack of food security. To date no national government department has championed urban agriculture. Main challenges encountered The greatest challenges FTFA experiences in the urban agriculture projects are: a. Limited access to basic resources such as land and water, seed and plant materials. b. Lack of sufficient funding and support from government and the short term nature of funding which does not allow for full development of projects c. Apathy and lack of commitment of beneficiaries and their urgent need for cash income which makes that (especially men) loose interest once they realize that are not being paid for food gardening d. Lack of awareness, education and training in urban agriculture, sustainable resource management and use and business skills to name a few e. Illness of participants f. Community politics Access to resources FTFAs criteria for providing assistance to new groups include that access to land and water have been secured. Since schools in South Africa have land, many community projects take place at schools. In some instances FTFA has intervened with government to facilitate land access through 99 year leasing agreements or other agreements. Where possible boreholes are sunk and water tanks installed. Drip irrigation has been piloted at several projects but was not found to be effective as communities tend not to maintain it well so pipes and sprinklers (not overhead as these waste more water) are used instead. Access to organic seeds and planting materials (non GMO and non hybridized) is often a problem. Production aspects


FTFA provides appropriate planting materials for projects it funds, dependent on climate and beneficiary requests and needs. It is a challenge introducing new vegetables, herbs and natural medicines to communities whose diets are extremely limited but this is overcome through training, education and awareness. FTFA attempts to introduce as much diversity as possible and provides projects with organic seed where possible. Medicinal gardens are cultivated including an intensive workshop on the uses and cultivation of medicinal plants. Through research it has been found that many medicinal plants have aided in alleviating some of the ailments related to HIV/Aids. FTFA provides all tools to project beneficiaries. Gardeners are taught to make compost, liquid fertilizers and natural pesticides. Gardeners must volunteer their labour in exchange for access to resources and training. In instances where beneficiaries are ill or too old to work in the gardens the beneficiary group are encouraged to conscript more members. Production needs to be intensive and food and medicinal plants should be available through out the year. It is of importance to include a nutritional education and feeding scheme in the project to ensure people receive a balanced meal on a daily basis. The consumption of fresh organic vegetables defiantly aids and builds up the immune system of people living with HIV/Aids. People have the opportunity to heal mentally, physiological and physically as they engage in activities that have a positive impact on their lives. Organizational and institutional aspects Community gardens have been the main focus for FTFA in its developmental implementation process. The organization has focused largely on developing gardens where HIV/Aids infected and affected people are directly involved. Nutrition has been the main objective and driving factor in these particular projects. Organic gardening being the main methodology is a very important aspect to improve the immune system of the people that are involved. Community development is made or broken by the community themselves. Successful projects all have in common a dynamic, motivated community member or members to lead the project. It is usually an individual. Often strong leadership itself can lead to a project’s demise as other members become jealous and destructive. Extensive interdisciplinary training to these leading members and other group members is crucial: training in urban agriculture and sustainable resource management, business skills, group management, nutrition, to name a few. Total commitment has been an ongoing problem area in project development. Some of this stems from members needing alternative ways of earning income whilst being part of a project. Additional courses such as entrepreneur, business, and craft workshops has aided in altering the desperate need to find alternative income. The health sector within the community needs to be directly involved. Programs involving health issues are of great importance wherein people living with HIV/Aids can have easy access to health care including nutrition and sex education. The health sector should set up organic food gardening projects at all clinics and provide information on urban agriculture, health and nutrition.


Local council and social services play an important role in mobilizing the community to actively participate in theses type of project where the work force is week due to physical set backs. The main funding for our projects has come from the Urban Greening Fund, mentioned above. Funding support from government is still limited and a serious problem is the short term nature of funding which does not allow for full development of the projects.