In cooperation with the Isikhokelo Primary School, they teach children and youths how to grow fruits and vegetables, organize workshops and food parties.The initiative was started in 2013 by a group of young people from Khayelitsha with the idea and concept of making gardening cool. They found a piece of land at the Isikhokelo Primary School, one of many in Site C - a neighborhood in the township of Khayelitsha in the Western Cape, Cape Town, South Africa.
In 2018 we introduced a voluntary donation with our ticket sale. WWe had the chance to speak to the founder and man in charge of the project, Xholisa Bangani: Ikhaya Garden, the project you started 10 years ago - How is it going? Is it ‘grown up’ by now?
I think it's rocking steady! The idea for that is that it needs to continue without people like me, it needs to have a new generation as we wanted to create it as a legacy to the community. Because this community is still very poor, very marginalized. Ikhaya Garden is some sort of hub, to educate people to be confident, to pick up themselves and become a respected part of the community.Now the project needs someone who's young, someone who's in their 20s, someone who can relate more – because age speaks as well in these things. that's when people start to understand each other generationally.
When the project is ready to be self-sustaining. What do you do then? Are you still in Ikhaya Garden?
We are still here yeah, but we are planning to open other branches soon.One that we specifically want to open is in the countryside, so the idea is to link up the city and the village. What’s happening is that the city is vibrant, it’s flooding with ideas and opportunities, but in the villages is a drought so to say. But for us there's a lot of opportunity because we're in farming. You won't be doing only fruit & vegetables production, we can include some livestock, like chicken, ducks or pigs. We want to also experience how we can deal with a big piece of land, creating job opportunities, creating things like agro-processing, where we take some of the plants and turn them into a product. What we want to achieve - our vision - as we are moving along with the project, is that we'd love to reverse the effects of migration we have here in South Africa. Lots of fields are empty. We see them as empty baskets, that could be full. At Ikhaya Garden we want to inspire vibrant, confident, positive like-minded youths to go to the villages and teach people about the same ideas they’ve been learning in the city, including myself.
What knowledge can your project transfer to the villages?
In the big urban areas, in the cities we have our own strategies of making sure that we can grow something regardless of concrete.We use everything to plant. Of course, we use wood to build raised beds, but in the ghetto, people use bathtubs, old buckets as well, we even planting in old shoes. It’s all about getting creative. If we would we go around the city and say we can’t grow anything because of the concrete, we would be doomed.
The new project is a separate one, or is it connected to Ikhaya Gardens?
The idea is to connect! Because Ikahaya Gardens is limited in space and resources that can be shared. This one can be much bigger in terms of the scope. But we want Ikhaya Gardens to be the life giver so to say. For example, what we are doing now, because we produce so much trees every season, I've been taking some of those trees to the villages, to start planting them now.
We don’t want to wait and see, like let's do a proposal first and send it to some people and then we wait for them to respond.
We just go and start with what we have.
Is there any support from the government or from local governments or is Ikhaya Gardens solely financed through donations from the private sector?
No government support. We have always been funded through the private sector, especially the private sector from tourism, where they would also benefit from us because they bring guests to our space.
Is it a decision by you or your team or is it the fact that the government is not willing to help?I always get asked that question by young boys and girls when I’m doing talks and stuff. And I’m like, I never reached to the government. I tried, but it’s not working. So, it’s best to wake up, do it on your own, start very small like the way we did, but unfortunately people always want to start big. [laughs]