Securing food for the future

The community getting involved with one of the latest gardens.

Lockdown might have impacted many households negatively, but it also gave rise to a project that’s contributing to a positive future.

The Hout Bay Food Security project was launched earlier this year, and when the Little Angels Creche was torched, it prompted Hout Bay’s Daniella Klaff to get her hands dirty. But she had initially set out to feed those in need through another local feeding scheme.

“We endeavoured to feed the disabled, elderly, children and those on chronic medication who had to eat one meal a day. What started as a small self-funded operation soon became a huge undertaking,” said Ms Klaff, who also runs a local environmental NPO called, Envirochild, well known for their Green Faire and other community projects.

During lockdown, she stepped up to help cook and distribute food parcels.

It was during this time, with the assistance of the ward councillor and Hout Bay community, that Ms Klaff was able to raise some more funds to feed the hungry in Hangberg – as well as their pets.

“People came from all over to assist, and it was such a heartwarming experience,” she said.

They managed to feed 1000s of people per week, with cooked food served in biodegradable containers and healthy food parcels full of groceries, fruit and veg. They received loads of veggies and often 400 kilograms of fruit to distribute amongst the needy.

In June this year, the creche in Hangberg, where Ms Klaff started handing out their food parcels from, was burnt to the ground by an angry mob, (“Little Angels torched”, Sentinel News, Friday June 26).

“This was a heartbreaking scenario, as 65 food parcels were destroyed in the fire, along with the stoves and cooking infrastructure. This action, proved to be a turning point in our feeding scheme, and prompted us to take the next step forward towards sustainable food infrastructures,” Ms Klaff said.

When lockdown regulations were relaxeed, she decided that the next step should be food security and this gave rise to the Hout Bay Food Security security project, with the aim of planting food gardens in every home out in Hout Bay.

The project started off by planting 13 gardens in Imizamo Yethu, including a communal garden at Iziko Labomi and six gardens in Hangberg, after they successfully launched the project on Mandela Day.

Hlumelo Bhakani from IY said he has been feeding his family from the gardens and was also able to deliver some vegetables to surrounding neighbours and those in need.

Mr Bhakani also lost his job after the carpentry company he was working for was forced to close.

“I was really knocking from door to door at first and then afterwards I saw so many people coming to help. But there wasn’t always enough to give us and when they started the gardens, I thought it’s a great idea, because now we can grow our own food and never run out,” he said.

Ward councillor Roberto Quintas said the Hout Bay Food Security project is a “benchmark in sustainable, resilient micro farming in an urban and informal landscape”.

“This tiny champion of permaculture can go a long way in taking steps towards food security for the most vulnerable in our Valley,” Mr Quintas said.

He added that with ongoing “irresponsible and illegal land invasion”, they had to try to protect every available green space and the project was just what they needed.

“Now more than ever, as we look at the climate of both food scarcity, economic recession and ongoing irresponsible and illegal land invasion, do we realize the need to protect every available green space for the united effort of food sustainability in vulnerable communities,” Mr Quintas said.

Nazley Sadan battled in the beginning to get vegetables and that is when she called on Ms Klaff, whom she had met through her catering business at the time.

“When I ran out of funds, I asked her to assist me with veg. From the time she saw what I was doing, she jumped onboard to assist with fundraising,” Ms Sadan said.

For Ms Klaff, the end is nowhere in sight as they are currently busy creating a permaculture garden for Theresa **SURNAME**, a disabled woman who runs A Place Called Home, an after-care centre in Hangberg, for children who have nowhere safe to go after school. “We have been fortunate to engage a permaculture expert, Sam Huckle, to design a working garden for Theresa. Here Theresa will be able to navigate her wheelchair under the tree and enjoy the outside spaces. The garden will be full of nutrient dense vegetables to feed the children that come there daily,” Ms Klaff explained.

They have plans to plant food forests all over Hout Bay, on vertical walls and on empty spaces of land, with the view of creating free food available for everyone.

“Unrealistic you may say? I am inspired by a town in the UK called Todmordon, who did exactly this, and now leads the way globally with their project ‘Incredible Edible Todmordon’ – their slogan is – “if you eat – you in”. We aim to raise funds to grow the food security gardens instead of being dependent on handouts” she said.