The Rural Ability Programme’s community disability workers (CDWs) work with a group of 15 people who have a range of physical and intellectual disabilities and at the beginning of 2016, a group of patients approached the CDWs with an idea. They wanted to start their own vegetable garden.
A member of the school governing body of a local primary school mentioned that there was a large piece of land at the school that had been designated for a garden, but had never been used. He encouraged RAP CDW, Buzeka Nkanunu, to meet with the school’s principal to request the use of the land for a community garden.
The idea was that the school would tell the gardening group which vegetables to grow, and would then purchase what they needed for their learner feeding programme. The surplus would be able to be used by the gardening team, or sold in the community.
Two of the gardening group members have been on an organic gardening training course, learning things like what to sow in the different seasons, how to keep the soil fertile and how to make organic compost.
Research shows that gardening can reduce stress, and associated depression. This includes immersion in a natural environment and engaging in a positive creative activity. Participants speak of their gardens, however modest, as places of refuge, that promote feelings of calm and relaxation – as well as competence, enjoyment, curiosity and hope.
At the moment, all of the money that is being made through the sale of the vegetables is going back into making the project even better.
Buzeka, the CDW who is working with the gardening group, is quick to add: ‘They are very dedicated, they even come in on the weekend to water the plants and make sure everything is growing well.”
We are looking forward to updates from the gardening group!