BBL PARTICIPANT: Daisy Zikali And Daniel Pebane from Greenspark, Northwest Province
In a Nutshell
Through their participation in SocioTech’s Broad-Based Livelihoods (BBL) strategies to stimulate personal economic activity, Daisy Zikali and Daniel Pebane from Greenspark in Northwest Province have developed a small business selling vegetables from their garden. They are eating healthy food and nothing is wasted. They are praying for continued visits from SocioTech.
Every morning my husband, Daniel Pebane, and I wake up, pray and then go straight to work in our food garden. We started the garden in 2001 and at first, it was just to feed ourselves and our three children but over time it has become a business. We sell fresh vegetables and also dairy products from our small herd of cattle. In these days of ever rising food prices, the fact that we can supply nutritious, delicious, reasonably priced food is welcomed by many in our community.
One of the reasons that we both love this business is that it allows us to work together as a family. My husband grew up on a farm in Bothaville. He spent many years as a herd boy, so he has a great love for cattle, milk straight from the cow and sour milk amasi. I grew up growing vegetables with my father. He was an instructor at the Western Deep Levels mining school, but he also grew almost everything my family ate. When I was a little girl, my mother went to the store for oil and things like tinned fish, but not much else. Every day, before and after work my dad was in his garden. Pumpkins, spinach, onions, tomatoes, you name it he grew it. And not just vegetables. He had fruit trees too. There were beautiful peaches, figs, grapes, granadilla, pomegranates.
"One of the reasons that we both love this business is that it allows us to work together as a family."
My mother knew how to make use of every part of a plant. If it was pumpkin season, she had something to cook from the flesh and the seeds and the leaves. Nothing went to waste. She made wonderful jam and bottled peaches in syrup. She canned beans so we could eat them all year round. She would make tomato sauces in summer that would see us through the winter. She would make sure we always had leafy vegetables by sun drying pumpkin leaves, bean leaves and also wild thepe leaves on a zinc sheet.
When we talked about The Food Robot with Zenobia, I recognised my mother’s way of cooking. No matter what time of year, her preserving of fruit and vegetables meant that she could produce plates with all the colours present.
We met the SocioTech team about a year ago. They were at the start of their programme in this region and the first thing they did was to drive around and look out for people who were already farming. When they saw our garden, they asked if we would be willing to help them connect with other people wanting to learn about food gardening and small business development. That was how we became involved. The first SocioTech meeting happened at our church and about 60 people attended. Many of the training sessions happened in our garden. That number fell quite fast and now there are only 11 active participants. That makes me sad, but you can’t make people continue. When people ask me why there was such a high a dropout rate, I tell them I think it was for two reasons. Firstly, for some people it was just about being lazy. Those people want help to be given to them. They don’t understand that hard work is what allows people to help themselves.
The second reason is more complicated. Many people said that they have been disappointed in the past by empty promises so they wanted to wait and see what would happen before they were willing to commit.
The SocioTech worker that we have had the most contact with is Zenobia. It is impossible to tell you how much we love her. Like a daughter. She has created a wonderful atmosphere. She made it possible for our community to work together in ways that we never had before. She took a group of strangers and created a family. She also taught us so much. My husband and I already had experience with various kinds of farming, but we learnt so many new techniques from Zenobia. With her help our farming methods have improved so much.
Even when many participants dropped out, Zenobia didn’t give up on us. She kept coming back to support those of us who were still working. She was always there when we needed her. The results of that support, kindness and guidance can be seen in our gardens.
Now many people come to me saying ‘we see that this SocioTech way works, and we want to join’ – that has happened increasingly since the tunnels have arrived. The problem is that now the programme has no more funding for this area. I say to those people that they must pray. With God’s help SocioTech will be able to return and take other people through the programme. In the meantime, we who have been trained are trying to train and guide the late-comers. I know Zenobia says that there is no more budget for this project, but we pray that more will come, because we love her so much. And we need her to come back. Even those of us who did the initial training have so much more to learn. We are praying for SocioTech’s MyPoultry training. We have benefited a lot from the MyBusiness training we received, and it has made me realise how many potential opportunities there are out there. With more business training I think we could expand and grow. Perhaps become suppliers for supermarkets.
The benefits of a food garden are many and varied. First is the financial side. Prices are rising all the time and as a family we are protected from that by growing our own food. Secondly, we can protect our neighbours by selling at affordable prices and make our own profit from the business side of that transaction. Then there are the health and happiness benefits. Every day my family becomes stronger and healthier because of the garden. Every day I see my children taking carrots from the garden and eating them straight away.
There is nothing nicer than watching your child eat healthy food. It makes a mother’s heart full of joy. I do understand that they are eating my profit but seeing your child well-nourished is the best feeling in the world.