Langa Farmer Profile: Nontembisa Sizani

  • Name: Nontembisa Sizani
  • Age: 57
  • Location: Lerotholi Urban-Rural NPO Office Garden
  • Farming since: 2018

Can you please introduce yourself? What is your name and what do you do at your garden?

My name is Nontembisa, I’m living here in Langalibalele Avenue, which used to be Washington before. I’m working here in the garden at the Municipality offices. I started gardening in 2018, so I have been working and volunteering and all that stuff since then. We are a project under the Urban-Rural [Development Capacity Building Project NPO]. When they don’t have [funding for] a project it’s closed but I keep on volunteering for myself, for homes, and selling a little bit to those who cannot manage to buy fresh products. When the season passes, I manage to get more seeds. From 2018 until now I’ve never stopped working on the soil or gardening until last year when I met Chuma, from Oranjezicht City Farm. So she gave us some workshops last year at the Ikhaya Le Langa [Centre]. I also did the agriculture workshop. We have done it at Zimasa [Primary] School. Some lecturer, Jason, taught us a lot. So all I have now is just the compost and the gardening. I do the compost by myself, and Chuma helps with [supplying] compost and some other seeds too.

What are your challenges at the garden currently?

We are under the Municipality water level [restrictions]. So I think it’s more water. We are scared to use more water because it’s under the Municipality. Sometimes the manager who works here tells us that we must not use too much water because the water is under the company of the Municipality. So, if we could just get a borehole that’s springing from the soil. They are not making too much participation, they just control us from using water. And the working materials, as you can see. We need some boots, uniforms and equipment.

So what do you do with your veggies and how does the community benefit from your garden?

I just sell to those people around but I haven’t put a stall somewhere to sell to the people. I just give it to people I know from my community, from the street and the people around I know. But I don’t take the whole bunch, only some of the veggies because [at Urban-Rural] we have a soup kitchen for the community.

Is there anything else you want to say?

Saying thank you to Chuma. She gives me more knowledge about agriculture. I have done it in school but you know that one from school [was part of Bantu Education]. I studied in the [apartheid-era] Homelands, in our time we were doing standards. The grandchildren don’t do it [now]. But we used to do only standards. At that time we didn’t only work in the fields but also with cows and other animals. So when I came here [to Cape Town] I didn’t think about gardening, I only looked for a job and everything. And now Chuma is giving me back that process. When I was young I learned about soil and everything. And for my age, I am 57 now, it’s ok now. This is something I just want to go on with.

I know you sometimes work alone in the garden. How come?

So sometimes I work alone because we are under the Urban-Rural, which is under the government [for grant funding]. So we work for this [non-profit] company, the [Urban-Rural] project. The project can hire people for three months or can hire people for six months and then in those three months other people stop working. So that’s the process and the project doesn’t always have people to work with. But I keep on coming and working. I don’t stop working, even if there is no project. I won’t stop working.

Interviews: Sandra Heming and Chuma Mgcoyi

Photography: Nina Zizzamia

This profile is part of a series of stories of inspiring individuals in our urban farmer network, a local group of urban farmers co-creating and operating food gardens in the community of Langa, Cape Town, South Africa. Farmers receive support from the Langa Agrihub, a project of the SA Urban Food and Farming Trust that is generously supported by the JDC

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