Cape Flats school garden makes an impact this Market Day
It’s not every day freshly-harvested vegetables from a Cape Flats primary school food garden make it onto the dinner plates of Capetonians far and wide.
So, setting up a stall at Checkers Century City as part of the Shoprite Group’s Market Day initiative on Thursday, 4 April 2019, for the first time was a memorable occasion for Rainbow Primary.
Established in 2017, the garden came about as a result of Shoprite’s relationship with the Vlottenburg Community Organisation (VCO), located right across the road from the school. Founded by Hilton Davids, VCO provides a feeding scheme, aftercare and youth development programme for the children and young people of Wesbank. The garden was initially created as a means of bolstering the existing feeding scheme with more readily-available fresh ingredients.
Its significance has, however, increased as this precious patch of earth at Rainbow Primary offers children and members of the community the opportunity to gain invaluable gardening skills, which can be used to cultivate crops of their own at home or add value to their CVs.
“Our hard work has ensured where once there was nothing there is now a green garden that feeds and empowers people,” says Davids, who sees the garden as a metaphor for upliftment in his community. “The same can be said for the lives of our youth: they might feel as if they have nothing to offer but if they work hard they can create something beautiful from nothing.”
The garden at Rainbow Primary was laid out by the Shoprite Group’s implementation partner, Urban Harvest, who deliberately moved away from a traditional grid style, instead opting for a beautiful three-dimensional mandala design.
In 2018, it was recognised in the National School Nutrition Programme-Sustainable Food Production (NSNP-SFP) garden competition for its outstanding produce, securing third place in its category.
As part of the Shoprite Group’s Market Day celebrations in the Western Cape, members of the media and other esteemed guests were invited to experience the beauty and bounty of Rainbow Primary’s garden themselves.
Here, they were treated to a lunch specially prepared by Exotic Taste’s Amina Abrahams - a woman with an inspiring story of her own.
After going through a devastating divorce, Abrahams found herself having to make ends meet while raising two children all by herself.
“My spiritual mom taught me to make atchar, which I started selling in 2006 as a way to gain an income,” she says.
Within less than a decade, she managed to go from selling her home-made products at a local shop to becoming a supplier for Shoprite and Checkers stores.
Exotic Taste products are made in a small factory in Kensington and Abrahams currently has 10 full-time employees. Her vision is to empower others, especially women, by creating a source of employment and education.
The Shoprite Group is proud to partner with community initiatives like Rainbow Primary’s garden and small businesses like Exotic Taste to take the good work they do to a wider audience.
Market Day is an important part of this, as it enables community gardens supported by the Group to promote their produce to a broader customer base and sell their excess crops to generate some much-needed extra income.
All together 25 Checkers stores participated in Market Day, giving shoppers throughout all nine provinces the opportunity to stock up on the freshest veggies around, while supporting a good cause.