Our Food Gardens, initially started by Missions Director Rita, are currently the main outreach activity at the African Blessings farm. The food gardens are established and cultivated according to the Foundations for Farming Principles.
The main purpose of these food gardens is to encourage and provide a means for sustainable food security for the communities we serve.
We strive to instil a sense of empowerment in community members by providing them with knowledge and skills for farming. Our efforts have seen us skill many community members who are now self-sufficient and independent food farmers that can provide for their families and the community.
The aim of our efforts is to positively influence and encourage self-sustainability and develop a sense of self-esteem that will allow individuals to feel confident in sharing the knowledge and skills received with society at large. We would like to nurture communities that are supported and provided with the skills and education that empowers them to operate and flourish independently.
Since its establishment at African Blessings, our wonderful on-site food garden has grown seven times in size. It yields a significant amount and wide range of organic vegetables that are distributed to local villages, safe houses and Educare Centres in the vicinity. The remainder of the produce is sold to Uni-Vision (Head Office) in order to generate an income that is then used to assist with various outreach projects.
We have established off-site food gardens at Alfonso Orphanage, Mispah Mission, Ubuhle School and also three gardens in Rethabiseng, Bronkhorstspruit.
These gardens are steadily growing and are an asset to the local communities who not only benefit from the food these gardens provide, but from the income generated through sales of surplus produce.
In addition to our open-air food gardens at African Blessings, Lotto South Africa generously donated 21 farming tunnels, which are now being used in our vegetable farming. This has been a blessing as it has enabled us to grow much greater volumes of fresh vegetables throughout the year.
We hope to continue to grow and expand our food gardens onsite and off and to teach as many individuals in the community through our Foundations for Farming education programs.
Several of team-members have been trained according to the Foundations for Farming principles, which is a farming initiative that teaches individuals and communities how to use the land effectively, productively and in order to yield nutritious crops in a sustainable and self-sufficient way.
It was through this training and the knowledge gained that the African Blessings staff could use their experience to teach, transform and inspire individuals within the community on farming "God's Way".
Farming God's way means to protect and preserve the soil, land and rain that is given to the farmers, making sure to not use ploughing methods to harvest crops or to burn any farming materials.
African Blessings applies these principles faithfully in our farming and makes sure to apply these management principles in all that we do:
1. On Time: Plan ahead. Start early. Never be late!
2. At a High Standard. Do every operation and detail as well as you can with no shortcuts. Be honest and honourable in all you do.
3. Without Wasting. Don't waste time, soil, water, sunlight, seed, nutrients, labour, energy, opportunity etc.
4. With Joy. If you do these first three things faithfully without self-pity, complaining, blaming others, making excuses, but with thankfulness, there will be no need for fear and hopelessness and you will have hope and joy which gives you strength.
This has contributed to African Blessings being profitable and successful in our farming efforts.
The wonderful Foundations for Farming initiative is an on-going activity in the communities. The training sessions occur twice a year for two days where community members can attend, and are taught the Foundation for Farming methods.
The African Blessings team contributes on-going support, training and encouragement in order to help create, maintain and sustain personal food gardens. With the skills and knowledge they have available we foresee great changes and upliftment in South Africa, one community at a time.