A community garden built on old-fashioned values

A member of a poor community took inspiration from the old-fashioned values he was taught as a child to provide for those in need.

Zwelithule Sithole (62) learnt how to farm from his father. A religious man, his father also taught him about caring for the less fortunate.

Now, Sithole runs a small food garden in Newlands West, KwaZulu-Natal that provides fresh vegetables for patients at a nearby clinic, an old-age home and unemployed members of the community.

“When I was young, we always shared everything, especially with neighbours who didn’t have much. It’s just how we lived. We took care of each other and that’s what I’m trying to do with our garden.”

- Zwelithule Sithole

Sithole started the Thulubukele Food Garden in 2012 and has been working in the garden almost every day since then. He believes it’s his duty to do whatever he can to help.

But it was only last year, when three ladies in the community started helping him that he was able to plant enough to start making small donations to the clinic and the old-age home. The garden now feeds about 20 people every week.

Shoprite through its implementation partner Food and Trees for Africa stepped in to help Sithole expand the small garden with tools, seedlings and training, taking place over 12-18 months, and which includes permaculture and water-saving techniques to name a few.

“The people in Newlands West, especially the sick ones, are always very happy when we give them fresh vegetables. They need good food, but they can’t afford it.”

- Zwelithule Sithole

Together with his helpers, Sithole grows spinach, beetroot, green peppers, lettuce, onions, green beans and beans.
“There are many matriculants here who are struggling to find work. My hope is that some of them will come work in the garden with us so that we can teach them what we know. It’s important for them to learn, but farming is hard work and the youth don’t seem to like hard work these days.”

- Zwelithule Sithole

Sithole hopes that with the new tools and seedlings, he will be able to expand the garden and start to sell some of the vegetables.