Nelson Mandela University – Saki’themba Earthworm
South Africa has one of the highest crime rates in the world. The Enjongweni Cooperative is not immune to this devastating problem as it is situated in the struggling community of Motherwell in the Eastern Cape. The Enjongweni Cooperative runs a vegetable garden in this township in Port Elizabeth. It was established in 2003 when a NGO installed 12 tunnels on the land. However, due to the high crime rate and vandalism by the community as well as conflict between its members, the sustainability of the project was severely impacted and negatively affected. During this time, the cooperative also executed excessive farming on the land and depleted the soil from some of its most essential nutrients. The Enactus Nelson Mandela University (NMU) team saw this as a huge opportunity to intervene and rehabilitate the land and the tunnels. They also identified that the cooperative was in dire need for support. This led to the establishment of the Saki’Themba Earthworm project for the production of compost. They also set out to improve the farming methods used by this group of elders.
The team conducted a needs analysis which highlighted the urgent need for security and diversification. The team collaborated with the NMU Agriculture Society and the Department of Agriculture for expert advice. The Team cleaned-up one of the hydroponic tunnels and installed two earthworms compost batches on a section of the tunnel. For this, they used tyres that were donated to the cooperative. They also piloted vegetable beds of produce that grow throughout the year. More partnerships developed as the team started to work with youth organisations e.g. Harambee and Amandla Resource Centre that is aimed at youth involvement and sustainability of the project. They also partnered with the Nelson Mandela Bay Metropolitan Municipality who installed Jojo tanks, and secured the land for the activities. They also attended to fencing to secure the produce. The beneficiaries attended various workshops where they were equipped with practical business and conflict management skills.
Saki’themba Earthworm project is currently sustainable in its production of vegetables, compost and seedlings that are sold to the community. It encourages subsistence farming and a community where cross-generation collaboration is promoted and advanced. The action taken by Enactus NMU has not only brought hope to the elders but capacitated them with new skills. It also united the community, as the monthly farmers market now has increased offerings of fresh vegetables and increased sales. It also provides a platform for all farmers in and around the Motherwell Township to showcase and sell their produce.