BBL PARTICIPANT: Francina Mmekoa, Pankop, Mpumalanga
In a Nutshell
Through her participation in SocioTech’s Broad-Based Livelihoods (BBL) strategies to stimulate personal economic activity, Francina Mmekoa from Pankop, Mpumalanga has started growing food for the first time in her life.
Everything I know about food gardening came from Jabu (note: Jabu Hlongwane, SocioTech BBL Facilitator). I hadn’t done any farming before and at first it was very tiring. Everything was new. Digging those deep trenches is hard work. Collecting all those tins and bones and papers to get that rich soil takes time. But I now realize that the hard work at the beginning is actually a good use of time, because you put in lots of work at the beginning (digging those trenches, collecting all those tins) and once you have done it, it’s done. The soil is good, and the plants grow well. So, it ends up saving you time and money.
We learnt all sorts of things from the people at SocioTech. Like, for instance, it is not enough to just plant, plant, plant close together and hope, you need to have good spacing between each plant. It was all worth it when that first harvest of crops came (eggplant and onion and chilies, potatoes and spinach). I was so proud. I felt fulfilled. Time and effort had turned into great results. It was the beginning of a new life.
"...and once you have done it, it's done...."
"Healthy food is so important for a family."
It is still early days for me and gardening, but knowing that the plants are growing well and that I don’t need to buy many vegetables for me and my family, is a good feeling. Healthy food is so important for a family. It has always been important, but especially now in these days while there is still COVID in our land. I know they say that it is getting less now, but we all still need to be careful.
I am part of a supportive group of people who have worked together for quite a long time. We did traditional dancing together and we do pottery together and even when we are not working, we enjoy each other’s company. I am grateful for that circle of friends. We encourage each other with everything we do. We make a good team. If one of us is unwell, we phone and say ‘do you want us to go inside your yard and look after your plants?’ If one of us is sick or has to go away for a few days, we make a plan to help. Maybe our friendship is what has allowed our gardens to thrive, and all of us to stay committed and focused.