THE DIS-CHEM FOUNDATION’S FOOD GARDEN

From providing healthy, delicious vegetables to creating entrepreneurial opportunities, food gardens can change lives in a sustainable way. A ground-breaking community gardening project – an initiative of the Dis-Chem Foundation – is doing exactly that in the Midrand (Johannesburg) area.

This successful project, started in 2013 donates fresh produce to various NGOs every week and has expanded from a garden into a farm.

The Dis-Chem Foundation was started by Dis-Chem Pharmacies to assist those in need. It receives about 8 000 requests from communities throughout South Africa every month. Over the years, it has noticed the need for food – from children’s organisations to old age homes – increasing significantly.

While the Foundation continues to support these organisations, it decided to also take action by investing in a food garden in Midrand, where Dis-Chem Pharmacies’ head office is based. The Foundation team was inspired by a journalist, who motivated her neighbours in Melville (Johannesburg) to plant vegetables on their pavements to help those in need.

Dis-Chem already had the perfect location for the garden. In August 2013, the transformation of vacant land, which was being used as a rubbish dump, owned by Dis-Chem and situated next to its head office, started. It was decided to employ natural methods and methodology, without the use of artificial fertilisers or insecticides. Good vegetables provide good nutrition, without harming the environment. It is now a burgeoning vegetable farm that already provides food for more than 10 000 people a month.

The garden team, which includes 18 community members who have been employed full time and upskilled over the years to self-sustainable farmers, grows and shares a wide selection of vegetables and herbs with various organisations. They include the African Children’s Feeding Scheme, Feed SA, Victory Outrech, Ladies of Hope and various NGOs in Gauteng.

The project has proven so successful that The Dis-Chem Foundation has included various community activities in the garden. Many school children visit and learn where and how the food they eat grows, interns from various agricultural sectors get training in urban farming, and drug rehab patients work with the soil as part of their therapy. Mentally and physically challenged people get to work in the garden through various organizations that use it as a platform for self-growth. The garden has been called by many “my happy place “, which is exactly what it is-mother nature bursting with colour and freshness.

This farm has become a special place with many uses, it feeds, educates, heals, employs, upskills, is environmentally friendly and offers natures greatest gift –good nutrition.

The right to food is a human right recognised under international law. It protects the right of all human beings to feed themselves in dignity, either by producing their food or by purchasing it. The Dis-Chem Foundation – which has been in operation since 2005 with more than two million people benefiting from its various programmes – believes that this project will contribute to communities’ food security by providing a sustainable source of nutrition.

Says Lynette Saltzman, Managing Director Dis-Chem: “The success of this vegetable garden has exceeded all our expectations. What was formerly a rubbish dump has been transformed into a thriving food farm that actively changes lives, educates, nourishes, offeres skills and employment and contributes towards an overall sense of community.”

The Dis-Chem Foundation

The Dis-Chem Foundation provides care and support to improve the lives of individuals through organisations and in this way relieves the burden on communities, families and friends.

The Dis-Chem Foundation is a beneficiary of Dis-Chem Pharmacies' Benefits Programme, whereby members earn points, or savings, on what they spend at Dis-Chem Pharmacies and a percentage of the value purchase is donated to the Dis-Chem Foundation. Points can be earned by using the Dis-Chem Benefits card available in Dis-Chem stores nationwide.

DIS-CHEM PHARMACISTS WHO CARE

Enquiries :  Penny Stein 011 880 3211 or 082 881 0784

Email: pro-file@yebo.co.za

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