BBL PARTICIPANT: Ntombi Langa, Tshepisong, Gauteng Province
In a Nutshell
Through her participation in SocioTech’s Broad-Based Livelihoods (BBL) strategies to stimulate personal economic activity, Ntombi Langa from Tshepisong in Gauteng Province has gained agricultural and small business knowledge that has taken her into a post-retirement business.
I was an electrician for most of my working life. When I started doing that job in 1984, I was one of only two women at the company and the men didn’t make it easy for us. They would swear at us and say that this was a job for men and that we should go home. It wasn’t nice but that experience made me strong. Because of those years, I know that I can survive under stressful conditions, and I don’t take nonsense from anyone.
When I retired, I hated having nothing to do. I thought I can’t just sit here. After about two months, someone told me about the SocioTech training, so I decided to try it out. I am so glad I did because it has changed my life. I loved it from the moment that I started. I knew very little about farming, but I went to every training session, and I followed all the instructions faithfully. I was the quickest and the keenest. I had the first tunnel in our area because I was ready before everyone else. That was about 2 years ago and since then farming has become a new career for me. I don’t have time for any other side hustle because this is a full-time job. I have a tunnel here at my house and two more at the church. Sugar cane, onions, spinach, beetroots, tomatoes, carrots. You name it, I grow it.
If I can do it, anyone can because I really didn’t have any experience with growing vegetables. None at all. Before I did the training, I thought that farmers just dug a hole and put plants in the ground. I didn’t know how to improve soil. All that stuff they teach you about collecting up tins and bones really works – I can see and feel that the soil is so much richer than it was before, and the plants that come out of it are so big and green. They look better and taste better than anything that comes from the shops.
"....since then farming has become a new career for me."
"Once you can grow your own food you know that you will never go hungry.
There is something so different about the taste of carrots that have come straight from the garden. They are sweet and fragrant. They hardly need any cooking at all. People come from all over Tshepisong to buy my vegetables and they tell me that they do so because my quality is so high.
The income from the garden makes a big difference to my life and the life of other people in my family. I pay R600 a month for school transport for my grandchildren, Nonkuleleko and Nhlanhla. They are in grade 11 and grade 6. Their mother isn’t working so it is a relief to be able to help her with that. My other granddaughter lives here with me. I paid her matric year school fees from the money I made out of the garden. She had a baby last year so at the moment she is at home, but in January she is going to Wits University to do a teaching degree and I am confident that the garden can grow the fees for that next chapter in her life.
Once you can grow your own food you know that you will never go hungry. I don’t need to go to the market, I can just walk outside and take from my own garden. So many people say that there is no work, but I say to them ‘with your hands and brain you can make work’.
When you have a garden, you will never have to go next door and borrow R10 to buy food from the shops. Not everyone understands that – people come to me and say ‘give me spinach now and I will pay you at month end’ but only a fool would fall for that line – I don’t have patience with people who say such things. I tell them to go and grow their own garden.