Families bonding over veggies

The Cape Winelands Biosphere Reserve's team spent two fantastic days in Bonnievale alongside the Bonnie People ECD School Project. The goal was to consult Bonnievale's informal settlement community about their food needs and share methods with them on how to maintain or establish a healthy and productive garden.

 Garden work was performed on the school's existing beautiful garden: compost heaps, vegetable/fruit planting and building of a worm farm. The team then went on to the home gardens of each participants to either try to improve it or start it from scratch using seeds and seedlings brought along by the CWBR.

Mark Heistein and his team of volunteers, Carlo and Thomas, were thrilled to exchange ideas with such enthusiastic children and adults who were all extremely interested and passionate about having their own vegetable garden. The children, adults and families who joined us on our two days mission were all given 1 lemon tree, 1 raspberry tree, cabbage, beans, tomatoes watermelon and pumpkin seedlings, as well as onion, sweet melon, pumpkin, and beans seeds to plant in their own gardens.


A year ago, the Cape Winelands Biosphere Reserve embarked on a program to educate and empower people to create their own food source.  This project entails planting food bearing trees and vegetable gardens in informal settlements, schools, rural areas and anywhere else where food is scarce. This is done through consultation with the communities to establish what their needs are, and what foods  they prefer to eat, which does differ from community to community. The communities, where necessary, are informed on the best methods to ensure plant survival, many however come from farming backgrounds and teach us. All recipients dig the hole and prepare the soil themselves.

The effect of these projects go way beyond food security alone. Building vertical gardens with palets against the walls of a shack can keep the temperature down during hot summers. It can also keep the goats from eating the growing vegetables/fruits as these become too high to reach. Granadilla creepers, for instance, not only supply vitamins and other nutrients, but form hedges which can define the properties, have fantastic flowers and stop children damaging themselves on razor wire fences. Trees are bearing fruits and have supplied nesting areas for birds, shade for people to sit under and create a “spirit of place” where people feel proud of how they have changed their own circumstances.


Bonnie People is a community development project in Bonnievale, Western Cape, South Africa, supported by Luxembourg. Its aim is to assist the inhabitants of an informal settlement situated in a little valley on the edge of Bonnievale. The project invests in the needs of the children and acts as "guardian" for children of the squatter camp". The project's staff and children also grow healthy vegetables naturally in an ever-thriving garden that has inspired many passers-by from the settlement to start their own food-growing garden outside their homes. Aly Zeinman, previous chairman of the Bonnie People Project who was recently replaced by Francis Faber, joined during these two days working in the settlement's gardens to witness the developments since his last visit in March 2015.

More information about Bonnie-People: http://www.bonniepeople.co.za/ or http://bonnievale.org/ 

Celine MacdonaldFoodsecurity