These were the sentiments of Susan Muchongwe, one of the 144 beneficiaries of the Muchongwe community garden in Ward 2 of Mwenezi District. The garden began in 2016 as a community initiative aimed at improving the availability of vegetables to villagers in the Muchongwe area.
Before the garden was established, members of the community were relying mostly on purchasing vegetables from gardens in other wards and during market days. In an interview with Mai Muku another beneficiary from the garden, she mentioned that for a lactating mother it was most difficult to ensure children have vegetables everyday as their home gardens were not performing well due to lack of water.
With support from the Zimbabwe resilience building fund, in the ECRAS project funded by European Union, the local borehole that was in the village was converted from a bush pump to a solar powered submersible pump which pumps water to a 5000L reservoir. From the reservoir, the community can access water for agricultural activities as well as for household use.
There are 13 mothers of children under the age of 2 who are very active members of the garden. In the above picture on the left, one of the lactating mothers was present at the garden weeding her section of the garden.
Through farmer to farmer education and technical guidance from the Agritex officer in the area, the community has gained knowledge in sustainable agricultural initiatives that have transformed their lives. At the time of the visit the garden had vegetables – covo, rape, sweet cabbage and spinach. There were also beans in their infant stages and expected to provide seed for the next planting season.
The women in the garden have since begun producing vegetables which they are selling to the nearby school, in support of the school feeding program. In an interview with Susan Muchongwe who is also the village head, she highlighted that the members were even planning to venture into poultry production in a bid to supplement their agricultural income in seasons when vegetables would not be doing as well.
The story of one garden has transformed the lives of many. Muchongwe is one of the many community initiatives in the district that have begun to enhance the resilience of communities throughout the seasons.
Story documented by Tapiwa Magaisa.