Brackenfell Park now thriving food garden

Henry

It was once an unused piece of land, but with the help of around 60 Brackenfell residents, this park is nowadays a thriving food garden almost the size of two rugby pitches.

The Suikerbussiepark garden in Protea Village was set up in May 2022 to support a group of urban farmers who use the fresh produce in their own households, or to help the larger community through a food security program facilitated by the garden project.

So far, 500 fresh vegetable packs have been distributed to vulnerable families in the area and surrounding areas.

Shoprite supports the Suikerbussiepark garden with practical training and also equips the participants with resources such as garden tools, seeds, seedlings and compost.

Mandy Leibbrandt, who launched the urban farming project at Suikerbossiepark, says the training, tools and expert advice helped them transform an unused piece of land into a “green oasis” while cultivating a community spirit at the same time.

“Knowing that there is a network of support – from fellow gardeners to local partners such as Shoprite – gave us the confidence to push through and thrive. Together we really create something beautiful,” says Leibbrandt.

And today this garden is also a symbol of unity: A place where people from everywhere come together while they produce sustainable food and show exactly how resilient a community can be. The garden already boasts 42 vegetable acres where all kinds of crops are grown.

Colbert Mdoda is one of the farmers and for him the garden was a kind of therapy. After being involved in a car accident, gardening became a source of healing as he learned to walk again and built up his strength on his road to recovery.

Alleviating hunger and food security is at the heart of Shoprite’s Act for Change program through which it supports more than 230 food gardens and 4,000 home gardens. In total, the projects cover 4.5 million m² and have an indirect benefit for around 60,000 beneficiaries. In the past year, more than 2,500 members of communities, trained in sustainable food cultivation, and the community gardens together produced a harvest of 73,400 kg.