4 July 2022 – Food & Trees for Africa (FTFA) is always looking to become involved in inspiring South African stories, and there are few more inspiring individuals and projects than Amantle Vikwane and his food garden initiatives.
On June 25, Amantle was announced as the winner of the MultiChoice Enriching Lives Award. At just 26 years old, Amantle already runs a wide network of community projects, including a community food garden in Maumong, Rustenburg, in collaboration with FTFA.
Amantle’s story shows just how much change one person can achieve with very little. “It all began when Shoprite donated me a R500 voucher, which I used to buy gardening materials like tools and seedlings. I donated these to Meriti Secondary School,” he says. “I then told Shoprite I would like to have more gardens, especially community food gardens.”
After implementing a few small-scale farming initiatives, things really took off when Amantle was introduced to FTFA. “When I found out that I could apply to Food & Trees for Africa, they sent someone to inspect the land and we started the Maumong Community Food Garden from scratch in 2019. FTFA provided everything – from infrastructure like fencing and a water tank, to tools, equipment, and seedlings and vegetables.”
This one project with FTFA allowed Amantle to increase the impact of his community interventions. “Firstly, we didn’t have space to plant all the seedlings donated by FTFA. We were able to donate those to particularly needy community members with backyard gardens. Thanks to FTFA, I was also able to achieve a larger project providing wider benefits for the first time. I could help not only my community, but the whole of Rustenburg.”
Reaching out during the Pandemic
During the Covid-19 lockdowns, for example, the Rustenburg municipality and Department of Agriculture opened a homeless centre in Rustenburg CBD. “I was able to feed 58 people there from the Maumong food garden, as well as 28 disadvantaged people in Maumong, and 32 children in the Maumong centre,” says Amantle.
“This is actually how I got nominated for the MultiChoice Enriching Lives Award. Someone outside my village nominated me because my garden with FTFA was providing for the surrounding areas.”
FTFA continues to show support
Amantle highlights the training FTFA provides as an important benefit. “FTFA’s facilitator still visits the garden to offer these skills. While I started my gardens back in 2013, working with FTFA was the first time I incorporated permaculture principles. I’ll never forget when they taught me about the different types of vegetables and how to water them effectively, while our project teams have learnt important concepts like intercropping.”
“We also have manuals, step-by-step guides, and books to learn from. We are able to take our skills back to our other projects and train more people from the community on the basics of agriculture,” he adds.
“The commitment shown by Amantle at Maumong is clear for anyone to see, and we couldn’t be more proud of him winning the Multichoice Award,” says FTFA Food Gardens Manager, Luyanda Ntuli.
Amantle has big plans for the future. “Winning this award gave me motivation to continue the good work I’ve been doing. It gives me hope for the future and for the voiceless individuals. I believe I will continue to enrich the lives of many more South Africans. My goal is to set up two more community gardens and 10 backyard gardens, hopefully with the help of FTFA. We can then transfer skills to continue setting up gardens. If we could get 67 gardens set up, we could feed 67,000 disadvantaged people!”