GEORGE NEWS - Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, new air was breathed into the Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP) urban food gardens project to create sustainable food security for locals. Bookz and Bootz, local rugby hero Zane Kirchner's NGO, joined other stakeholders on the project.
"It was decided to get the project going again, after budgetary constraints halted it earlier," said Cllr Dirk Wessels, portfolio councillor for Finance and Strategic Services.
He said the municipality cannot ignore the major impact the Covid-19 pandemic had on everyone with countless challenges including job losses and people going hungry during this period.
The project aims to create food security and instil a sense of pride within the local communities.
"These gardens can benefit the community greatly and we ask the community to take part and support the initiative," said Wessels.
The project was made possible with the help of the Western Cape Department of Agriculture and the Breede-Gouritz Catchment Management Agency (BGCMA), the Expanded Public Works Project and NGOs like Bookz and Bootz.
Kirchner, a retired Springbok who is currently back in George, started the NGO to provide opportunities for students. His wife, Tasneem, who is also involved in the NGO, said since the Covid-19 outbreak, they have decided to extend the span of the NGO and get involved in food security. Both are very excited to be part of the initiative.
The EPWP department made money available for salaries for eight food garden coordinators.
The coordinators will work in different wards in the George municipal area including Touwsranten (Ward 4), Rosedale (Ward 14), Uniondale (Ward 25) and Haarlem (Ward 24), Parkdene (Ward 8), Rosemoor (Ward 6), Thembalethu (Ward 13), Borcherds (Ward 20) and Blanco (Ward 1). The coordinators will work five days a week.
The skills development section of the Western Cape Department of Agriculture provided help with training the coordinators.
Ten new gardens
Des Carolus of the Worker Collection Point oversees the project. He says the coordinators is expected to start ten new gardens per month as part of the project. The previous food gardens will also be re-entered into the project. Gardeners will receive different seeds or seedlings during each planting season.
The coordinators / gardeners underwent a one-week training course covering soil preparation and nutrition, starting on Monday 2 November.
The trainees were split into groups, with one group doing theory while the other received practical training. The training facilities at the Worker Collection Point and the Rosemoor Civic Centre were used.
For more information regarding the project, please contact Des Carolus or Amy Kearns on 044 801 9173.
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