A story of hope through sustainable food security

The Soutana Food Hub is a story of hope, empowerment and teamwork. The brainchild of the Greater Knysna Food Security Forum (GKFSF), this community garden will provide fresh produce for soup kitchens in the area.

The GKFSF was formed during the COVID-19 lockdown with the vision to create an open space for communication between like-minded organizations and projects working with sustainable approaches to food security. Cllr Waleed Grootboom, Member of the Mayoral Committee (MMC) for Community Services, said that the forum fosters cooperation, resource pooling and synergy to create a range of sustainable backyard community gardens. “Small, low-income backyard gardeners now have improved access to the necessary resources, such as compost, tools, and seeds to create gardens that can improve food security in the communities around them.”

Organisations that form part of the GKFSF are Community Development Workers (CDWs), the Community Work Programme (CWP), Department of Agriculture, Growing Upwards, Greenhearted, Knysna Initiative for Learning and Teaching (KILT), Knysna Municipality (social development, youth desk, PPU and LED), National Development Agency (NDA), and Knysna Rotary Club.

Grootboom said the aim is to create ‘Food Hubs’ in ward-central areas. “These hubs can function as nurseries, compost creation sites and training locations to support and empower the surrounding gardens.”

He said the Soutana Soup kitchen on the outskirts of White Location was identified as the ideal project to become the first of these food hubs. “The garden was started to support the soup kitchen with fresh produce and hopes to create an employment opportunity for a local gardener. The project is overseen by Greenhearted, a registered NPO selected by the forum as its administrative arm. Their key focus areas are training and sustainability by hosting workshops with community members, as well as coordinating and delegating funds on behalf of the forum. The Soutana garden will be expanded into a large vegetable garden, a nursery and a composting area”

Once the nursery is completed, Soutana Food Hub will enter the next phase of the project – training and upskilling local participants to produce seedlings that can be shared with surrounding gardeners.

Grootboom said the much-needed family and community-run soup kitchen was and still is supported by the Knysna Initiative for Learning and Teaching KILT and Sparking Minds, and we thank them for their support.”

Other funders that made this project a reality are the Breede Gouritz Catchment Management Agency, Knysna Municipality, Knysna Rotary, and the Community Works Project (CWP).

Grootboom concluded by saying that the project is a wonderful example of collaboration and participation between the municipality, local NPOs and informal community organizations. “It aims to set a precedent in the greater Knysna area of teamwork, shared resources and mutual support for the common goal of sustainability and service. We are proud to be part of this initiative that can make a tremendous difference in our communities.”