Limpopo

BBL PARTICIPANT: Pastor Patrick Masha, Strydkraal, Sekhukhune, Limpopo

In a Nutshell

Strydkraal’s Pastor Patrick Masha not only created a food garden to help his community but also inspired many other people to start growing their own food. His goal is to establish agricultural learnership and barter systems in order to support economic growth.

He says…

Patrick Masha

I am not from Strydkraal, I grew up in Pretoria, but I felt overwhelmed by the environment and decided to take the spiritual path of becoming a pastor which led me and my beautiful family into the Sekhukhune District. That was in around 2017. It was the right move for us. We found our peace, found a place that felt like home. We love living in the Strydkraal community.

Right from the start, my goal has been to encourage spiritual welfare and healthy living amongst the people I serve.  In my opinion, you should never watch someone suffer if you are able to do something to alleviate their situation. I cannot watch someone struggle because I’ve been in that situation and it’s hard. I don’t want anyone going through what I had to go through, so my hand is always there to help the needy.

I am also a member of the local council. I take my role at the council very seriously. I see it as part of the job to take care of the people’s wellbeing, encourage them to eat healthy, and to follow their spiritual path. So, both my duties fit together.

Strydkraal is a disadvantaged community, but not a lazy one. Everyone tries to make ends meet. There have been water problems and there are very high levels of unemployment amongst the youth, many residents are very old, but people from this community never break, never lose hope. They stay united and try to make each other’s lives better. Many people share their knowledge and time in a very generous way.

My desire for Strydkraal is to strengthen local support systems that already exist and transform them into an economic strategy that encourages agriculture amongst the community. One of the things I see is that people travel very long distances and spend lots of money to get to the shops to buy food. Most of what they buy is vegetables. That seems like a wasted opportunity when instead of spending time and money on the taxi, they could invest their time into planting right here at home in Strydkraal. That way they could have fresh, nutritious vegetables that don’t have chemicals sprayed onto them, at a reasonable price. That would increase their longevity because less people would be getting sick.

My view for the future of the Strydkraal community is centered on the idea of barter trading. I feel strongly that this would be very helpful. Especially to the elderly and the youth. There are no jobs here – especially for young people - which means there is no money. That is when lots of people give up and say nothing can be done but that is not true. People don’t have money, but they do have hands and they can use those hands to help themselves. If we were growing and bartering, many of the community problems could be lessened.

The other thing that I try to promote is saving. A little money saved consistently can go a long way. Those savings can then be used to fund the education of our children. There is power in education. If we give our children knowledge, then, in my opinion, we have greater chances of having a brighter future. Education is the most powerful weapon you can use to change the world.

My dream is to create local agricultural learnerships for our young people. There is more to agriculture than just crop farming, there’s the business, and raising livestock and many other areas. Agriculture is basically where everything starts - like your food and clothes. If we can get our youth to understand that, then maybe, they will become interested in it. Agricultural learnerships is one of my long-term goals.

When I first came here, I didn’t have a passion for farming (or even any knowledge about it), but I saw how the elderly people of the community were struggling to get healthy food, so I figured that if I could do something that will help, then it was my duty to do so. I started by learning the basics of how to farm crops, and then I started to plant vegetables for the elderly.

I love that garden of mine because it produces big, tasty vegetables and it enables me to share what I have grown with the community. I discovered that the elderly people of the community love beetroot, potatoes, the morogo that they call ‘China’, spinach, and sweet potatoes, so that is what I plant most.

When SocioTech came and offered training, that helped a lot. They set up the MyFood programme and many people came to those sessions. I did the training too. Now that people in the community have some knowledge, they are starting their own vegetable gardens at home. They have guidelines as to when they should water their plants, how to make natural controls for pests, and when those plants will be ready. They are creating food without spending money. When you grow food yourself and you work hard for it, you won’t let anything go to waste, because it’s your own sweat and blood that created this.

The exciting thing about the past couple of months is that SocioTech and Harvesting Heritage have started to bring chefs all the way from Gauteng, Lesotho and even Cape Town to come and buy vegetables and traditional ingredients from us, the people of Strydkraal.

Seeing that happen has motivated us to work twice as hard so that they can sell more to the chefs.

 

garden-care
Patrick Masha
Patrick Masha