BBL PARTICIPANT: Johanna Moagi, Pankop, Mpumalanga
In a Nutshell
Through her participation in SocioTech’s Broad-Based Livelihoods (BBL) strategies to stimulate personal economic activity, Johanna Moagi from Pankop, Mpumalanga has improved her poor sandy soils and is investing in her granddaughter’s future.
When I was a little girl, my parents were food gardeners who grew vegetables like spinach, tomato, and onions. They also had fruit trees such as guavas, oranges, naartjies. Now my two-year-old grand-daughter is in the garden, learning from me. It’s the circle of life. She is still very young, but she likes to water with granny. Well, that is what she says she is doing… mostly she is making a mess. But even in that playing, I do think that learning is happening. Children watch and they copy. Often when you aren’t aware of it, they see what is happening.
It is good for young children to learn about gardening. I think that it teaches patience. You put seeds or seedlings in today, and then you look after them. At first it looks like nothing is happening, but slowly they become food. I also think that a child gardening with adults learns confidence and self-reliance. That is important – especially in a country like ours with very few jobs. People shouldn’t just wait around for grants.
Understanding that you can make your own food, is the first step to understanding that you can make your own job.
That same idea is part of why my friends and I have started our pottery project. We are trying to create our own opportunities.
"But even in that playing, I do think that learning is happening."
I am part of a circle of friends who work well together and who have always enjoyed each other’s company. We used to be in a traditional dancing group, and we have a stokvel too. For us, the dancing was always more than just people having a fun time. It was a way to connect with heritage and spirituality. We aren’t dancing anymore, which is sad, but I think that the gardening fills some of that same spiritual and emotional space. It is all about connecting with our heritage and feeling a connection to the land and those who came before us.
We did the SocioTech garden training together as a group in 2019. We all learnt so much from Jabu. For one thing, when we started, our soil was very sandy. It was possible to grow vegetables, but they needed so much water to survive. And so much time and effort was needed. We needed to improve our soil a lot. Jabu explained that process and then we put it into practice. It was hard work, but we supported each other through that phase. Once the soil is right, everything becomes easier. It saves a lot of time. Now each of us has our own garden. At the moment I have spinach and beetroots and carrots. There are peppers and chilies and all sorts of beans. Pumpkins too. Last night I made a very nice gravy with brinjals and peppers from my garden. The day before that I made a pumpkin leaf morogo.
We are always available to each other for support. If none of us within the group know the answer to a garden problem that one of us is having, then we know that Jabu is always only a phone call away. He will listen and help.