Reaping the rewards

From a fun project initiated by bored teenagers during lockdown, to a productive, commercially viable success, we are so proud of our vegetable garden.

Spurred on by the thrill of being able to eat food we’d actually grown ourselves, we decided it was time to get professional help to plan a proper 52 week planting cycle that would give JCH multiple harvests throughout the year.

Edible Organics partnered with us to provide training, which was attended by various staff and volunteers – including one of our social workers, a board member, our kitchen assistants and head of social enterprises. We also welcomed a new youth gardener, Tumelo Lechaba, who gained valuable experience as a volunteer at Siyakhana Gardens in Bezuidenhout Park.

We learned how to link our planting calendar to the vegetable needs and menus of the kitchen, and to follow a weekly cycle of soil preparation, nursery planting, sowing, disease/pest control, and harvesting in a more consistent and predictable way.

Results so far have been nothing short of spectacular! Our first harvest yielded 21kg of beetroot, 4kg of broccoli and 2.1kg of spring onions. The same amount of non-organic produce in the shops would have cost over R930. But even more important is that our children enjoyed the best, super fresh, organic salads and veggies.

As the 52 week garden cycle takes root and we begin harvesting on a larger scale, excess fresh produce will be sold to generate an income.

The children are excited about this aspect and it’s so rewarding to have raised their awareness of food security and issues of climate change in a practical way. We believe that some of them may even go on to forge careers in agribusiness after leaving JCH.