BBL PARTICIPANT: Betty Makgatlaneng, Mogaladi, Limpopo Province
In a Nutshell
Mrs Makgetlaneng lives in Mogaladi, near the Mpumalanga/Limpopo border. Through SocioTech’s Broad-Based Livelihoods (BBL) programme she has added to her horticulture knowledge. She is struggling to plant and grow vegetables because of water shortages in her area.
In the mid-1980s I was involved in trying to set up community food gardens in this area. I organized the ladies in the village to come together and we got some funding for equipment from the Department of Agriculture. Each family had their own strip of ground in a big field. We shared tools and for a while it went well, but somehow people started fighting and I didn’t want to be part of that unpleasantness, so I left the village and went to live with my husband in Johannesburg.
We lived in Alexandra township, and I started making vetkoek to make extra money. People say that my vetkoek are very delicious. At first, I sold them from a bucket at school gates. After I while, I expanded my range of foods (dombolo, scones and so forth) and moved to the Sandton taxi rank. Then my husband bought me a caravan so that I could sell there nicely no matter what the weather was like. I got up very early every day to make doughs for dumplings and vetkoek, and also to prepare chicken and beef stews. My customers loved those stews. The taxi rank made way for the Gautrain station, so I lost that spot and that was when I came back to Mogaladi.
When I heard about SocioTech and their programmes I was eager to participate because everything they stand for is what I believe in. The SocioTech teaching fits my family values of love, respect, communication, integrity, goal setting and working hard together to achieve those goals.
I did the MyFood and the MyFuture training. I came back and told my family about everything that I had learnt and together we had an abundant harvest at Christmas. We sold some but we also gave to the needy. Isaiah Chapter 1 says that God is not impressed if you do things for yourself without helping others.
Sadly, I couldn’t plant this year because the water supply was too unreliable. There has been almost no water since January. My daughter went to see the local councilor and she said that the problem is that there are too many new houses drawing down on the water and that they are having to ration supply.
"I don't like to buy vegetables at the supermarket."
One week this part of town. Next week the other part of town. It is almost impossible to plant and grow vegetables under such conditions. I have a JoJo tank, but even when there is water the pressure is very low and almost as soon as you start to fill the tanks the supply goes again. We have been saving rainwater and I have kept a few crops alive but not enough to sell.
I miss having plentiful fresh vegetables in my garden. I don’t like to buy vegetables at the supermarkets. I prefer to cook using fresh vegetables, straight from the garden, because I think that they have a beautiful taste that can never be found in shop bought produce. I think that extra taste is a sign of the better vitamins inside the vegetables. Straight from the garden is when the nutrients are strongest. When you buy from the shops, those vegetables are not so fresh, and I think that some of the goodness has also gone.
At the shops they throw a lot of the plant away – including a lot of the tasty bits. Leaves and stems are often missing. In our culture those leaves are a delicacy. Why throw them away? When I grow for myself beetroot leaves, bean leaves, pumpkin leaves, okra leaves are a treasured part of the meal.
Also, there is companionship in home grown vegetables that is not possible with shop bought vegetables. For instance, you find me sitting here with my daughter and grandsons processing okra leaves from my garden to use as morogo for tonight’s meal. As we work, we are talking, sharing news. In this way we build our family bond together.
I hope the water situation will improve but we don’t know. I have had to put aside the vegetables this year, but I haven’t given up all my farming activities. I still sell my chickens. I charge R80 for lovely Sotho chickens – hardbody. Full of flavour. The ones that you cook long and slow to make beautiful chicken stew with dumplings…