Vosloosrus Home of Solace


I am about to share one example of what I do in my role as a Community Agricultural Project Coordinator working for Ranyaka’s National Food Network Project for Nedbank Proud of My Town. I am doing so because so many people ask me what we do and why we do it, but I think the how we do what we do and what we hope to achieve are also pretty important to the many community members we meet and train.

Today we shall be in Vosloosrus at the Home of Solace, where we shall be training 18 pre-selected agri-entrepreneurs in how to be leaders in the field of home gardening. These young people are already community leaders in that they provide care and comfort for those who need special care. We shall be encouraging them to apply their prior knowledge to the maxim of Lead where you are’ in providing guidance to those they service in how to grow vegetables that are suitable for their own unique nutritional needs. At the same time as orienting today’s session towards community leadership, We shall include elements that should enhance participants’ personal development as community agricultural-trainers and potential entrepreneurs.

Like any good farmer, We have done our groundwork before sowing our ‘good seed on the land’ because we want this session to yield a harvest of well trained and self-motivated young farmers. We have done our groundwork and preparation for success, which includes considered planning of process and equipment as well as methods. Before any hands get dirty, our session will start with the leadership needs of the people being trained. Success cannot be achieved without motivation. From this point of view, we will be covering a number of points on which I shall invite participants’ input, including:

·         Why communities and the country need Agri-entrepreneurs from a socio-economic point of view.

·         The importance of an individual’s outlook towards being an agri-entrepreneur

o   Fulfilling the nutritional needs of the members of the local community through generating SME’s in communities

o   Job creation for community youth and unemployed people, especially women

o   Mental health derived from gardening to provide for the needs of families and the needy

·         How to calculate potential expenses and return on investment from a business-like point of view.

·         The benefits of collaborative farming activities as a cost-effective basis for community farming.

Today’s agricultural training will build on this basis. Any form of training must be based on appropriate equipment. This varies from training session to training session according to the needs and facilities on the ground. We have checked that we have loaded our vehicle with all the equipment we will need today. There is no sense in taking any gardening equipment with us today that is more sophisticated than the type of implements that the people of Vosloosrus are most likely to use. If we take other equipment with us, we must be prepared to donate it and leave it there for people to use as we have taught them. This entails funding and a mandate to incur such budgetary costs for the Ranyaka Food Network funders.

Our previous visit to the site involved a soil sampling test to establish what could be grown on the Home of Solace site. On receiving the soil analysis back from the lab, We decided to use the AgriSure Home Garden Starter Pack as the basis for training because that has a variety of suitable seasonal winter vegetables that includes

·         8 crop seed packs ( cabbage, onion, spinach, radish, beetroot, carrots and turnip)

·         Crop nutrition products

·         Crop protection and treatment products as well as

·         The basics for precision farming, which are

o   Guide rope

o   Ruler

o   Stickers for marking planting spacings on the rope.

The physical items mentioned above will cover the gardening aspect, but the experiential learning content of the training is what participants will have to relate to so that they learn good farming habits. They will need to make these habits part of their daily lives so that they are able to train others to garden well. As we examine and utilise the Home Garden Starter Pack, we will discuss a few key farming aspects, such as

·         The importance of soil potential and management of water needs in relation to climate, local weather patterns and crop selection.

·         Management of soil regeneration to produce high-yield sustainable top-quality crops in return for labour and capital investment

·         Precision farming as a method to accommodate climate change by combatting the

o   Evaporation of water

o   Erosion of soil

o   Leaching of minerals that are essential for plant growth.

When we leave Vosloorus today our hands, clothing and boots will be grubby with the dust and dirt accumulated from being down on our knees working in a garden with 18 community leaders who have a real interest in producing food and potentially becoming community agri-entrepreneurs that will spead the message of Proud of My Town. If all goes to plan in the usual way, We will leave Vosloorsrus confident that these trainees are mentally and physically equipped for successful gardening. We will be secure in the knowledge that we have shared life-skills and agricultural knowledge in a constructive manner that will benefit a lot of people in future. To sum up, by training these young leaders as we will have done, We will have enabled them to coach others in good farming skills. Essentially, we will be living out the maxim of lead where you are’ as best we know how.

"We are especially passionate about building small-medium enterprises, to enhance their contribution to economic growth, job creation, and a resilient society."