In 2021, CAST launched the Grow Eat Thrive (GET) Farming Project in response to the dire need for food and financial support in our communities that resulted from the Covid-19 pandemic, compounded by the civil unrest in KwaZulu-Natal during July.

The aim of this project is to not only teach participants how to grow their own food, but to develop business skills to earn a liveable income and support their families.

We recently chatted to one of our participants in the rural community of Noodsberg in Northern KZN to find out how this project has impacted her:

Zodwa Shange is a single mother of three and grandmother of one. Her children sadly lost their father in 2000, leaving Zodwa as the sole provider for the family. She currently makes a living with part-time jobs and tries her best to save her earnings through a local women’s savings club. She heard about the GET Farming Project through her cousin, a former CAST Community Co-ordinator in the area.

1) Why did you decide to join, what were your circumstances?

Once I attended the farming training, I learnt that farming is helpful especially to able to generate my own money. You don’t need to go look for a job. It is also a good way to exercise my body. I also love to farm vegetables especially to use the compost when planting because that eliminates the disease that may occur when using chemical manure.

2) Did you know how to farm before?

There was one time when I attended the training that was organized by our local authorities where we used the chemical manure which is not good. I once worked in one of the factories where I saw dangerous things that are used to make chemical manure and that was different to what I used to see when I was working in some farms where we only used the cow manure or the compost which I learnt is healthy.

3) How was your experience, what did you learn?

I learnt how to do the raised bed. I used to plant things like mielies (corn), beans, potato etc. I now know how to plant other vegetables like cabbages, beetroots, carrot and spinach. It was encouraging because each one had her portion where you must make sure that you are taking care of it (it was sort of the competition). I learnt how to use the fresh cow dung to make a good manure to help the crop to grow healthy and fast. I also learnt how to make the compost.

4) How has it changed life for you and your family?

My life has changed because of the environment I am working in. I am able to practice what I have learnt. I can see that this project will change my life because now I have found more customers to supply. I believe from what I have seen when I was selling vegetables that in the future, I will make money. The customers are also appreciating the vegetables I am selling, that they are healthy and nice.

5) What are your plans/dreams for your business?

My plan is to learn more about how to use what I have learnt. I would also like to learn more on livestock farming like poultry, cows and goats. I worked with some people on livestock but they treated me unfairly and I left them. I have some knowledge of poultry farming and I also know something about cows and goats, even the medication that helps the livestock to produce more.

I used to have goats before. I grew up knowing that I must work hard to able to generate my own money. When I was young, I used to pick the fruits from fruit trees at home and sell it to people. That taught me how to sell and make my own money.