A seed planted in last year’s commemorative edition of the late former state president, Nelson Mandela Day continues to nourish Alex residents who appreciate its value.
It sprouted at a veggie patch at Alex Cricket Oval at Atrec Sports Complex from a sponsorship by vehicle hire company Imperial. The oval management and the Department of Sports and Recreation, Joburg City Council contributed the space where senior citizens and members of Rethabile Gogos Club tend veggies while engaging in daily sports activities and aerobics for their nutritional and physical benefit.
This was said by Manase Modike, caretaker at the complex who also benefits from adjacent space through an all-year-round of fresh produce. Found nurturing a new crop of spinach, cabbage, covo, chomolia (two varieties of African kale), beetroot, onion and carrots, Modike’s passion for agriculture started at a young age in his rural home in Limpopo province, a breadbasket also for most of Gauteng urban centres.
“The family thrived from a productive farm of veggies and fruit we worked on until I and my siblings were lured by the elusive gold in Gauteng,” Modike who was found weeding his section next to the gogos’ patch said.
“I cherished the interest and carry it on wherever I can. Working the land is meditative and therapeutic for the mind, is an exercise and helps one to bond with nature.”
He donates his excess organic produce with the gogos saying, it reduces costly reliance on supermarkets’ genetically modified products and saves their meagre income.
He transferred to the complex in 2013 from Ullmann Park Recreation Centre, Sandton, where he produced and sold lettuce to surrounding fruit and veggie shops. “I hope the gogos will over time also produce for profit if they maintain the dedication.”
This he said, pointing to the abundant water, fertile soil, sprinklers which ease out on labour and a year-round supply of compost of grass from the oval.
Modike urged youth who laze around daily on the streets to consider agriculture as an option away from poverty and contemplation towards crime for survival. “Change your attitudes about agriculture as menial, hard and for the poor and low-salaried workers.
“While physical like most other jobs, it’s the only way for sustenance, nutrition and food security even when unemployed.
“You can survive on agriculture wherever there is access to soil, water and manure which can be produced from most household waste.”
He urged them to organise themselves as cooperatives and seek financial and technical help from the city and government. Also, Modike urged schools to implant the value of agriculture in learners through practicals in the science subject.