By Eveline de Klerk
WALVIS BAY – A small-scale gardening project started in 2006 by an unemployed couple at Arandis is blossoming as a self-sustaining initiative and providing much needed food and job security for at least seven unemployed families at the town.
However, the garden which is located on the outskirts of the town faces a huge challenge with garden pests threatening to destroy its very existence.
New Era last week visited the project, dubbed “Dreamland Garden” and was told by Joseph Makina that the garden which is their only source of income could be in jeopardy if they don’t get assistance in the form of pesticides to control rampant pests.
He is now appealing to government or any organisation to help them save the garden.
Makina said he was unemployed with four children and he did not know how to feed his family seeing that he could not get a salaried job.
“Times were harsh. We struggled and the idea of starting a garden was the only thing I could think of. I then turned to council for assistance and was given a piece of land. I bought seeds and garden equipment with my little savings. We survived all these years eating some of the produce and selling some vegetables to local residents,” explained Makina.
Makina said that despite being sustained by the garden the dry hot conditions of the desert were a huge challenge as it made it impossible for the garden to grow at some stages.
“We we tried to cover some parts of the garden but didn’t have enough material to build shades. We then approached the Rössing Foundation who built the current shade for us, while the municipality also came on board and assisted us with the water and electricity bill of the garden,” he said.
According to Makina the garden was extended and six more people were employed.
“At least seven families can now be fed through the gardening project. However, my wish is that we expand the garden further and supply vegetables to the whole Erongo Region,” he says.
Currently they plant tomatoes, lettuce, cabbage, green pepper, spinach and sweet potatoes.
“Our project can still grow, we just need assistance to control garden pests. Therefore I am appealing to the government to assist us with pesticides and also training to administer it so that our hard work doesn’t go to waste,” he says.