BBL PARTICIPANT: Pontsho Mohapi, Diepkloof, Soweto
In a Nutshell
Pontsho Mohapi has embraced SocioTech's Broad-Based Livelihoods (BBL) ideas to stimulate his personal economic activity.
He has cultivated a flourishing family food garden. He has also started to make and sell delicious atchar. He says....
My food gardening journey began when I was inspired by some of my neighbours who were working together under the name Reja Mobung Farmers. Reja Mobung means ‘we are eating from the soil’. At the time I was an unemployed, married man with two teenage sons to provide for, so I joined the group.
When I first started, I didn’t have much garden experience. I had a bit of an idea of what to do, because I had done agricultural science at primary school, but that was all. My garden is on open land, under the electricity pilons, behind my house. I didn’t know about soil preparation then, so I just loosened the topsoil and put in the seeds. I watered every day but only a few beans grew. The other seeds never came up. I now know that those early setbacks were because the soil was full of underground roots that needed to be removed.
Soil preparation is key. It is hard when you are putting in lots of work and there are no immediate results. I would come home after a long day in the garden with nothing, but even then, I had confidence that one day I would get something from the garden.
Little by little things improved. I learnt first from the other members of Reja Mobung and then later, we met KG from SocioTech who taught us about deep trenches, which really helped to increase our output. It is wonderful when you start to get results. I say to my sons "let’s go to the garden and get whatever you want." I love being able to make my family smile.
"if you have farming skills you can make your own business."
There is a special feeling eating something from your own garden. Something that you put in effort, pride, skill and dedication to, and it came right. What is amazing is that my garden is organic. I am harvesting first grade, delicious, healthy veggies which makes me so happy. I love that there is no travelling, no going to the shop to buy. The veggies are right there, straight from the garden to the pot.
My boys and I inspire each other. My sons help me a lot in the garden, and as we are working together, we talk. I say to them "you might go to varsity and then sit at home without a job because often employers want candidates to have experience that new graduates don’t have. If you have farming skills you can make your own business. That is a valuable life lesson.
I only started this a year ago and until recently my main priority has been feeding my family. I do sell a bit from the garden gate, but I haven’t yet got into full scale production as a commercial venture. As I work in the garden, I think about the future and how I can expand and start doing business from my garden. I want to increase the amount of land I have under cultivation and divide it up so that there is a section for my family’s needs and another section of vegetables that are for sale to the community.