By Neelam Rahim
When you think of the Cape Flats, your immediate thought would-be gangsters, violence, and drugs. For many young people, there is no escape from the lure of gangsterism, with some families having been part of one or the other gang for generations. A Hanover Park single mother of four children is now giving Cape Flats children a chance to turn away from gangs through a food garden that provides a positive outlet for troubled kids.
Radio Islam speaks to Renshia Manuel, who started her garden business known as GrowBox after losing her job. Now it’s become more of a community initiative to help troubled youngsters.
Renshia says, “One of our business pillars been a wholesale seedling production nursery, we cut out the vegetables and the herb seedlings. And after that, supply it to community-based organizations, farmers, and retail nurseries. We also facilitate food gardening workshops, where we teach our beneficiaries how to grow their food.”
“Often, as the youth sitting around and doing nothing, we get them involved. We teach them everything from seed catching to composting to how to grow their food in small spaces. And we even have an urban farm where we get them involved keeping their piece of land and let them grow their food in the area,” Renshia tells Radio Islam.
One would think in today’s world of gadgets, glitz, and Glamour, kids wouldn’t be too much into growing food in a garden.
Renshia says that it takes getting used to, but once the youth sees how the food grows from a seed to a seedling and into a flower, it changes their mindset.
“It takes some time getting into a routine. But once they see the product, it’s just a different life and the excitement and accomplishment they get from knowing that that is what I do. And this is what I did. It takes time to grow, and some of it takes over three months. But the accomplishments that they get from it are far more than anything it is just pure joy to see them and the excitement that they take out to others to do the same. They encourage their family members. And that is what we aim for,” says Renshia.