BBL PARTICIPANT: Lehupana Maria Mashilo, Motsephiri, Limpopo

In a Nutshell

Through her involvement in SocioTech’s Broad-Based Livelihoods (BBL) programme, Mrs Lehupana Maria Mashilo has improved her farming skills. She provides food for her family and sells surplus to her community. She believes that the farming lifestyle is the key to her long life

She says…

Maria Mashilo

I was born into a family that was already into farming. As a young girl I would go to the farm with my siblings, and we would help our father. My dad farmed crops such as morogo, spinach, avocados, and tomatoes. It wasn’t big commercial farming – we were mainly just trying to survive. The techniques worked, but I now see that they could have been better. Later, I learnt about deep trenches from SocioTech, but back then we didn’t know about such things. My father would give me some of the vegetables and would send me out to sell them. I brought that money back home. That’s how I first got into business.

When Mama Di and Baba Cletus Damba from SocioTech came to the community, I got invited to the MyFood training, that’s when I was introduced to methods to improve the soils, save water and so on. Mama Di and Baba Cletus taught me about deep trenches and Farming God’s Way to grow bigger, healthier crops.

So, after getting trained I got better results. Big, beautiful vegetables. Good results are a combination of all the training that I received and my hardworking self. No amount of knowledge will produce results if you don’t work hard. That combination has paid off a lot because I now sell the vegetables that come from my food garden. My customers are always happy to buy and also refer other people in the community to me. I don’t have to worry about what my family’s next meal will be, because I have grown my own food.  And I know that this garden is for life. At the moment I have sugar beans, green beans, tomatoes, onions, beetroot, cabbage, and avocados in the yard.

I have a water system for my garden which works really well, so now I don’t have to worry about water. And it is all thanks to the SocioTech BBL family and Mama Di.

"No amount of knowledge will produce results if you don’t work hard...."

"...growing can be come selling.  Small business can become big business..."

I know I said hard work is important and it is, but smart work is also important. Knowing how to get the best out of your work is one of the main things that I learnt from Mama Di. Meeting Mama Di has helped me a lot. I have knowledge and confidence in what I do in my garden. Knowing these factors, I can clearly observe that the crops are growing better and organically.

I am hoping that in the future more of our youth will develop an interest in farming. Even if they see the farming as a stage on the road to somewhere else – Mama Di tells us that growing can become selling. Small business can become big business – for myself I would love to expand and be selling to places like Spar. Selling vegetables gives you skills you can use to sell anything. Also, let’s not forget that you have to have food to eat before you can operate any type of business. Hungry people are not strong, energetic business people.

Eating vegetables every day is the right mix for longevity. I am here right to vouch for it. I believe that if I didn’t have this kind of lifestyle, I wouldn’t still be here to talk to you. I wouldn’t be around to encourage my 11 grandchildren to follow in my footsteps. Even if they do not decide to be farmers, I would encourage any child to learn farming. Farming comes with a whole lot of life lessons, so if my grandchildren are strong enough to push through farming, they will be able to do anything.

Through farming you learn patience, passion, and commitment – and with those skills they’ll be able to become successful in any job.

Maria Mashilo
Maria Mashilo