USDO partners with UBF

One Home One Garden partners with the UBF

Siwe KaChonco, leader of the Perfect Rock Co-operative Limited and Trevor White, founder of One Home One Garden Co-operative have partnered with the Umbilo Business Forum (UBF) to grow a more sustainable future for members of the co-operative and ultimately create skills development and employment opportunities for many young people.

The co-operative will soon have their own website linked to the UBF’s website, where locals and interested supporters can find valuable farming information and read the latest news.
It all started at the Sustainable Living Exhibition in 2016, when KaChonco drew the attention of Mr White, a member of the Umbilo Business Forum and counsellor at Brettonwood High, leading to the launch of an award winning independent organic farming project.
Read the full story below.
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The above article was featured in the Natal Mercury in 2017, written by Linda Zakas. 
“Working with Key Truck Hire and Girls and Boys Town Family Homes, we began to run a Community Outreach Programme together with Siwe’s co-operative team to implement an Umbilo-based Carrington Primary School One Home One Garden Programme,” said White.
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Brettenwood High School land that was used to start the One Home One Garden programme. Picture: Trevor White, Umbilo Durban, 2017. 
“Our “micro programme” brought in teachers and learners through motivational sessions. Learners submitted applications/motivations to be members of the Food Garden Club, etc. Their motivation exceeded all expectations – so heartening to see and read the responses of young learners to all of this,” he added.
The One Home One Garden activities based at the Carrington School included learning how to sow seeds, to transplant seedlings, singing, artwork and poetry.
The programme began in mid-September 2017 and ran through until the end of November 2017 when Siwe and the young gardeners cropped the spinach which they had grown, and together with Siwe they worked in the kitchen to prepare tasty and nutritious school lunch box food – which was immediately served to a queue of eager learners.
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Siwe preparing food using the vegetables from the Brettenwood Food Farm. Picture: Trevor White, Umbilo Durban, 2017. 
“Again, so much positive energy –  showing that if you find a creative way to draw youth in – they do enjoy growing and preparing healthy food which they can eat and enjoy.  This is the way forward, as long as funding is available to sustain the programme,” concludes Trevor.
Carrington Primary School spinach and lettuce thrived. Every ten days Siwe and her team would crop more spinach (from the same plants) and deliver to Queensmead Super Spar. Spar was happy to buy their whole crop of lettuce.
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Co-operative members tending the Brettenwood spinach crop, just next to the lettuce crop grown in tyres. Picture: Trevor White, Umbilo Durban, 2017.
Co-operative members did not have start-up funding for the Brettonwood High School Food farming project, which mirrored the Carrington School Project, they were however willing to volunteer their services to ensure that spinach was planted.
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A miracle of abundance – November 2017 Brettenwood High School Spinach ready for supplying to Queensmead Super Spar.
The Brettonwood School farming project was started with no money but willing hearts and hands.
The volunteer co-operative members listed above, paid their own transport costs to work incredibly hard and with a good vibe. White was using his own funds to ensure that at least the volunteers ate a nutritious meal every day, and were helped to get to public transport at the end of their work days.
“It was tough, very tough. We were all working out of the boot of my car without even secure storage hut. A small security hut (which is not secure) was already positioned near where we were working – it had a plug point and so I used my two plate stove, bought provisions and Siwe prepared delicious midday meals for the team on a daily basis.   We asked the school to provide us with a nearby tap.”
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From the Brettenwood Food Farm to the shelves at Queensmead Super Spar. Picture: Trevor White, Queensmead, Durban, 2017.
“Siwe had good experiences of seedling quality at Zululand Nurseries north of Tongaat and that is where we went to purchase seedlings – still no start-up funds but we just had to keep moving forward drawing on the positive energy.
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Siwe selfie at a food farm at Inanda Dam. 2017.
“It rained consistently at the end of September, beginning of October and that helped.   Then we had that hurricane storm mid-October pushing over ten trees near where we were working and washing through all of our newly planted seedlings. Siwe always reminded me – “Trevor – this is what happens to farmers – it is seldom easy”.
The team re-established the damaged seedlings and helped the school to cut up and move all the trees that had fallen over the fence blocking access on that side of the School. The school authority paid the team some money for their storm damage work.
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Tending the lettuce at Carrington Primary School. Picture: Trevor White, Umbilo, Durban, 2017.
“We kept having good rains and in early November the spinach was ready for its first cropping. A miracle in amongst all the hurdles and setbacks.  Siwe took a sample bunch of our spinach crop to the nearby Queensmead Super Spar and introduced our programme to the manager. The response was positive and the next day we made our first delivery of one hundred bunches of spinach. In addition, five Agricultural Science students from the Umlazi based Coastal College who visited Siwe’s display at the Kwamyandu Exhibition joined our work team. They wanted to work with Siwe to get practical experience in growing food.”
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KaChondo and Co-operative member Sibongile receive award for Outstanding Achievement in September 2016 from Productivity SA.
White says the UBF is positive about it’s initiative to uplift and rejuvenate the rapid regression of the Umbilo area by providing youth between the ages of 14 to 24 years with fundamental and developmental opportunities with a strong “social skills” component.
“We hope to offer various opportunities including educational support, with after school tutoring and Saturday morning classes, the arts – visual (poster art, street art), written (essays and poetry) and performing (dance, singing, drama and magic), food gardening (hydroponics/tunnel vegetation) for the preparation of simple, nutritious food for school lunch boxes, summer salads and winter soups because nutrition is a critical component of good health. Trained youth will be supported with starter packs and a follow-up business skills programmes to pass on their skills to families and the community,” explains White.
“Our objective as the UBF is not only tackling crime and grime, but also to have a strong consciousness to provide a sense of belonging to the most vulnerable and needy of our society, to correct the ills of apartheid with qualities of understanding, not vengeance, Ubuntu not victimization, and it’s a local initiative with collaboration from the community and the businesses. The UBF remains hopeful and positive with the support from our local municipality and other NGO’s to make this project a success,” The UBF’s media liaison Usha Stevens added.
“The lack of start-up funding in 2017/18 made it difficult for the Co-operative A Team to sustain their 2017 (volunteer) efforts. Working people need to earn. Once the cooperative are established the more commercial component will provide an income for the workers,” adds White. 
In 2018 – another visit to another Local Government Section involved in Urban Food Farming – submission of a proposal and start-up needs as requested by the cooperative. However, once submitted, nothing further was returned. 
White’s involvement with the UBF began in March 2016 when one of the founding members, Usha Stevens, requested his assistance to write a proposal for a Community Development Programme to be based at a neglected park and derelict house at 33 Davenport Ave. 
Concerned forum members noted an increase in social problems in the area and a need to start working with youth between the ages of 14 to 24 to address their problems in a positive and vibrant way. 
“This programme was endorsed at various levels of the metro bureaucracy with offers of funding “millions” but in the end, those deals were blocked, presumably because of metro politics,” said White.
“The ideals of the UBF which were extended to the registering of a non-profit, the Umbilo Social Development Organisation can be realised through school-based programmes. We are starting with our youth – at the level of primary and high school. We will help them develop skills in One Home one Garden as well as a more commercial approach to supply UBF members who in turn supply Checkers KZN and Gauteng.”
The programme is fully integrated and starts with sowing the seeds and proceeds through to reaping the harvest and extends to skills in the preparation of nutritious meals; salads, winter soups and school lunch boxes. 
“With financial education and entrepreneurial skills to support all of this, this will become a very real option to the current 55 percent of young adults in South Africa experiencing unemployment.
“A purely academic Grade 9, 10, 11 or 12 does not make one employable. To attract young people into this field of work we will incorporate the arts as we did at Carrington Primary, we will build a sense of Umbilo Community with once per month market days based at the schools dishing up cultural food and dress and arts. A platform for young people to market their skills and talents and introduce themselves to the Umbilo business community with a sense of pride,” concludes White. 
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