This month, we're highlighting the individuals behind our Beyond the Roots gardens and how they are contributing to the ongoing initiative which was set up in July 2014 in commemoration of our 10th birthday.
Read on to hear how one individual is playing an important role in the success of the Beyond the Roots garden at Antelope Park in Zimbabwe.
Oswell Manyati started working at the Midlands Children’s Hope Centre (MCHC) in September 2013, when his work mainly centred on the chicken breeding side. However, now with the Beyond the Roots garden growing bigger by the day and with no chickens in stock he spends all of his time in the garden.
“Working in the garden brings me so much joy because I learn more things about farming than I have ever known,” says Oswell.
Apart from benefiting from some of the produce, he is learning new farming skills such as crop rotation and how to use different kinds of pesticides. It has also made him feel more comfortable knowing he is giving out to the less fortunate especially the orphaned children, in the form of his labour.
Being at the garden has also been of great importance to Oswell as he gets to impart some of his knowledge to the community, those that come to assist him, as well the orphans that come to help during holidays and on weekends. Volunteers from Antelope Park also come once in a while to give a hand and to learn a thing or two. Gardening at MCHC new orphanage site has helped him raise hopes and see the good he is doing.
By working at the garden, he has managed to accomplish a lot of things.; the produce has doubled since he has been there. Together with the donation of a past volunteer and Antelope Park staff labour, MCHC managed to fence the whole garden. Oswell took the lead to build scarecrows which volunteers joined in making, to scare monkeys from the crops. Currently, a drip system has also been installed in order to save water and time for watering the plants.
However, happy as he may be, there are many difficulties that the garden is facing, the major one being lack of water.
“There is not enough water to water the vegetables especially now being the dry season,” says Oswell. “Sometimes the garden can go for a week without water and unfortunately some of the crops are wilting and being attacked by worms and other pests.”
There is always a need for more manpower at the garden, which is where the volunteers currently play a big part.
There is also one last benefit to our Beyond the Roots garden – particularly for Oswell.
“For looking after and maintaining the garden, I am allowed to eat some of the produce that is grown, which I am so grateful for!”