What has a Water Tank got to do with Food Sovereignty?

Our Continued Collaboration with Ikhala Trust

April 2023

Photo of the streets of Kuyga, Greenbushes taken by then-3rd year Photography student Yente Retief in 2021 when Design and Photography students visited community kitchens we had been collaborating with.

In February 2023, the Mandela University Food Systems programme asked Ikhala Trust – a key non-profit partner of the University – to identify a Community Kitchen (CK) that could make use of a JoJo Tank that had become available. The identified CK was in Kuyga – an expanding, self-reliant, active community hidden behind the tall trees of Greenbushes and an extensive brick wall.

The Kuyga Community Service CK had recently cleaned up a large backyard belonging to one of its residents, with the intention of transforming the space into a community garden. This made Kuyga Community Service an easy choice when Unathi Meslane – Ikhala Trust Community Development Practitioner – was asked if there was any CK that could make use of the JoJo tank.

The tank was delivered to the community a few weeks later and was shortly followed by funding from Ikhala Trust to allow for the installation of proper fittings and gutters. The Trust also provided enough seedlings to cover the whole garden space, with the first batch of produce growing well less than a month later.

Not only is a community garden a crucial component of a CK in that it serves as a means of sustainable food relief, but it also serves as a visible symbol of hope. “A beautiful, thriving garden in the middle of a community will have a ripple effect” said Meslane – and as neighbors see the space, the hope is that they too will be inspired to begin their own backyard gardens. 

The Kuyga CK began in 2018 when an Anglican church started a soup kitchen in the area. Towards the end of 2020, Ikhala Trust invited Shirley Canzibe and her fellow soup kitchen volunteers to be part of a project Ikhala Trust had established in partnership with Mandela University. This project saw the Hubs of Convergence (HoC) working alongside Ikhala Trust to support community-driven, collective efforts to respond to severe food insecurity, amongst other crises. This collaboration saw this CK, along with 5 others, establish vegetable gardens, reading clubs for children, and work towards more formal organisational structures that could ensure the sustainability of this work. Over the last few years, it has evolved into an active CK, occupying a more solidaristic, empowered space, and highlighting the assets and resources that already exist within the community.


"Not only is a community garden a crucial component of a Community Kitchen in that it serves as a means of sustainable food relief, but it also serves as a visible symbol of hope."

Over the longer-term, the aim is that this community garden will grow enough produce so that after meeting the CKs needs, additional produce could be used to supply an Early Childhood Development Centre (ECDC) in the community, as well as to be sold to generate income for community members who volunteer at the CK.
According to Meslane, receiving the JoJo tank “was such an encouragement to the team” at the Kuyga Community Service CK - especially as water challenges in the Metro are at an all-time high. 
Our collaborative work with Ikhala Trust and the Kuyga Community Service CK also included an engagement with Design and Photography students in 2021, in which, after visiting the community kitchen, students produced high quality photographs and design materials including logos, a visual profile capturing the core details of each CK, and organisational branding. Being able to connect with the Kuyga Community Kitchen again when we found ourselves with a JoJo tank needing a special home, was a positive reminder for us about a relationship that remains valuable, and which we hope will bear more fruit in our ongoing endeavour to explore what it means to be a university in the service of society. 
To find out more about Ikhala Trust and the important work that they do, visit their website here.  
To find out more about the collaborative work we did in 2021 with Design and Photography students, read an article on page 7 here
Posted on 18 April 2023 10:02:50

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