Agriculture was a confusing word to me when I was young. My mind always wondered how a person had to sit in class to learn how to plant food?! I could not connect the two together. I had never seen an agriculture textbook and couldn’t comprehend how this process could be documented. As I got older, this subject received less and less attention, and we really forgot it even though it is one of the biggest sustainability factors. It is 2021, thank goodness I know it can be done. Better yet, it should be done to reach more people in the world.
You see, where I come from you learn how to plant from your grandmother or mother. This is the norm. Each family has space in their yard or on another plot to plant food. We plant mielies, pumpkin leaves, squash, peanuts, cassava, African potato, sugarcane, banana, litchis, oranges, peaches, mango, avocado, sweet potato, sugar beans, okra, guava, and many others whose english names I do not know.
I grew up in the ‘new age’ era. At a time when many things were changing in South Africa and the world. Back in 1986, there was 1 grocery store within a 30 km radius. Today, there’s a grocery store every 5km and a corner
store every 500m. In Johannesburg it is even more. Convenience is the new trend; we can’t imagine having to travel more than 10 minutes to buy bread. But that was our parents’ life. They also had methods to process mielies into mielie meal, milk into sour milk and dried leaves for winter days. One of the biggest trends, and maybe the best ones in my opinion, brought on by corona was the uprising of planting our own veggies in our yards, right here in Johannesburg. We were baking, painting, writing, creating content and planting. Many of us tasted our very own spinach, tended by ourselves, for the first time ever or in a very long time.
We (my partner and I) have been planting vegetables since we moved into the yard we live in. That was in 2014. The first vegetables we planted were spinach, onion and potatoes. If you have grown your own spinach or tomato then I don’t need to tell you what a blessing it is to taste them. They taste different; crispier, fresher and more filling. Maybe it is a sense of pride that you are a food producer. But each and every individual should know how to grow a tomato.
I haven’t purchased spinach in 5 months, I just grab some from the yard. So far, we have harvested chilli, green pepper, tomato, potato, pumpkin leaves, pumpkin, mint, mealies and chives in this yard. I now dream of growing garlic, ginger, strawberries, asparagus, broccoli and many other foods. Each year we get better but run out of space ?. Do we want more space? Yes. All I know is that eating better and cleaner is easier if I can get them for free, within 5m of my kitchen door. Convenient? Yes