Investigating the potential of Thuthukani as a viable community garden : a situation analysis.
The concept of community garden has been studied in many parts of the world to understand its role in sustainable land use, food security and cultural cohesiveness. In South Africa, the government is exploring the upliftment of rural communities through landcare programmes. Many agricultural cooperatives have been established in the form of community gardens to galvanise support for the farmers. However, there has not been clear evidence that community gardens can make a significant contribution to food security and rural economic growth. The aim of this study was to investigate the performance of a community garden located in a peri-urban area of Tumbleweed in KwaZulu-Natal with respect to social and crop production activities. The objectives were to determine (i) whether the activities of the community fit the concept of community supported agriculture (ii) is there a food security potential on the site that can be explained in social and agronomic context and (iii) are there future lessons for policy in the context of community gardens, especially in per-urban areas. The study presents a detailed literature review that analysed the concept of community agriculture compared with intensive agriculture. Key characteristics of the a community assisted agriculture, with which community gardens fit were identified as (a) (a) Talk to your neighbours, (b) Determine the initial focus for the CSA program and its short- and long-term goals, (c) Build partnerships and design the program, (d) Get the word out and (e) Encourage ongoing discussion and adapt accordingly over time. While the Thuthukani garden members were not found practicing all these approaches, their was clear evidence of collaboration from the situation analysis. The situation analysis also identified that the farmers grow more than 10 vegetables all year round without the necessary skills and resources to produce potential yield. However, an analysis of one of the popular and better yielding crops, potato, showed that a farmer with a 50 m2 can produce from about 5 (without fertiliser) to 15 t.ha of potatoes and make about R500 to R1500 of gross margin from this crop per production. It is concluded that Thuthukani is a community garden with a potential to be a cooperative, should the necessary skills and resources be available. The success of this community garden could be used for government policy in dealing with peri-urban agriculture.
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