During this year’s World Food Day, the Western Cape Minister of Agriculture, Dr Ivan Meyer, visited several vegetable garden projects in Rietpoort, in the Matzikama Municipality, West Coast District.

During the visit, Minister Meyer highlighted the importance of food security.

Minister Meyer said, “Food security is essential for the development of the nation. It is for this reason that the Western Cape Government is currently rolling out household and community food gardens across the Western Cape.”

Meyer continued: “We are encouraging households to start vegetable gardens. The ability to provide food for oneself and one’s family promotes dignity and wellness.”

To date, the Western Cape Department of Agriculture (WCDoA) and its implementing Company, Casidra, have supported over 2589 food gardens across the Western Cape – 377 of these being in the West Coast.

The staff at St Boniface Primary School in Rietpoort established one such garden. According to the principal, Hester Riffel, the two tunnels they received from the Western Cape Department of Agriculture, enabled the school to establish a community garden.

Riffel said, “We plant a variety of vegetables which we harvest four times per year. The fresh vegetables help us to provide for our feeding scheme and soup kitchen. We sell excess produce to the community, which enables us to buy new seedlings and in that way sustain our garden.”

The principal, Eben Miggel, of a neighbouring Rietpoort Primary School agrees.

Miggel said, “our vegetable garden gives us access to fresh vegetables making us self-sustainable. We have also gotten our learners involved in growing their home vegetable gardens through a school garden competition run by the Jala Peo Foundation.”

Responding to Mrs Riffel and Mr Miggel, Minister Meyer said, “Community gardens are significant to us in the Western Cape. I am very grateful for the work being done here by the principals and staff of both schools as they are promoting food security in Rietpoort.”

Minister Meyer highlighted that the WCDoA supports 42 household gardens, seven chicken projects and three school projects in the Rietpoort, Bitterfontein and Kliprand areas.

Minister Meyer concluded by saying, “Even though most of the produce is for own consumption, beneficiaries are encouraged to sell surplus produce to the community to strengthen the sustainability of the initiative. I want to thank organisations such as Fruitways and AB InBev (SAB) for donating food towards the food fountain for further distribution to needy organisations in Nuwerus, Bitterfontein, Kliprand and Rietpoort.”

 Top Pic: Julian Williams(SAB) Anna Otta (Protea Club for the Elderly and Minister Meyer

Bottom Pic: Minister Meyer and staff of the Rietpoort Primary  School

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