Craigpark  Residents’ Association

doing better together for craigpark

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A property in Craighall Park has recently witnessed a remarkable transformation: What was once an old, neglected garden has now become a flourishing oasis of fresh produce. Since late 2018, a group of dedicated individuals set out on a mission to turn this barren land into a thriving food garden, all while experimenting with various organic farming methods and prioritising soil health. Today, their efforts are not only bearing fruit but also inspiring and empowering others in the community.

The primary intention of this project was to create a food garden that would serve as a testing ground for different organic farming techniques. The goal was to find methods that could be easily shared and replicated, particularly among township and peri-urban growers. The journey has not been without its challenges, as the team encountered numerous failures along the way. However, these setbacks only served to fuel their determination to find effective and affordable solutions.

One of the major hurdles faced by small-scale organic growers is the cost of commercial organic insecticides, fungicides, and fertilizers. Often, these products prove to be ineffective and financially prohibitive for projects of this scale, especially for nonprofit organisations. Fortunately, after extensive research, the team stumbled upon the JADAM ultra-low-cost method. Developed by Youngsang Cho, son of the founder of Korean Natural Farming, this holistic approach was specifically designed to address the pressing concerns of poverty and food insecurity in third-world countries. By implementing the JADAM method, the team has managed to produce their own highly effective and natural pesticides, microbial inputs, and fertilizers on-site, all at minimal to no cost. The added benefit is that these techniques can be easily replicated in rural areas, further empowering local communities.

Recognizing the potential impact of their work, the team has joined forces with the Johannesburg Homelessness Network (JHN) on a groundbreaking presidential social employment initiative. Through this partnership, 11 individuals, carefully selected and screened by the JHN, are being trained in various techniques, including the production of organic inputs. Working closely with the JHN, the team ensures that the initiative is organised and managed efficiently. An auxiliary social worker is present at all times, registering attendees, addressing any issues that may arise, and ensuring proper attendance and accountability. It is important to note that this initiative does not involve randomly inviting homeless individuals into the neighborhood but rather focuses on providing valuable training opportunities and empowering marginalized members of society.

The transformation of the neglected garden in Craighall Park stands as a testament to the power of community-driven initiatives. By embracing organic farming methods, prioritizing soil health, and sharing their knowledge with others, these dedicated individuals are not only cultivating a sustainable food source but also creating a ripple effect of positive change. The success of the JADAM method in other parts of the world has yet to be fully recognized in South Africa, making this local initiative all the more significant.

As the garden continues to flourish and more individuals are equipped with the skills and knowledge to implement sustainable farming practices, this project is setting an inspiring example for other neighborhoods and communities to follow. Together, they are proving that even in the face of challenges, a neglected garden can be transformed into a vibrant hub of growth, empowerment, and community resilience.