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Mr Shadreck Ndlovu (senior grower) left and Mr William Mpuso right Image Credit EMS Foundation 2021

The new intimate connection between people and food is known as Farm to Table. Before urbanisation people lived close to, and knew the people who grew their food.  People purchased their food directly from the farmer or from their local market−they knew who to compliment if the food was tasty and ripe. 

In the modern world we have become accustomed to eating food that is mass produced and moved around the country and the world by interconnecting highways and flight paths.  We seem to have erased the connection with our food which often arrives in packaging and rarely in its  raw natural state. 

In South Africa we are blessed with an ideal climate, a diverse landscape and fertile soil. Soil is a collective terms for all the organisms living within it. Soil has been described as life itself, its miraculous structure is the balance of a source of nutrients and water, which provides the source of life for humans and all other living creatures. 

The EMS Foundation and Shambala Private Game Reserve rolled out the delivery of emergency food parcels during the COVID-19 global pandemic.  These were delivered in the provinces of Limpopo, Gauteng, and the Western Cape in South Africa. 

Realising that providing food for a large amount of school children and their families was unsustainable, the EMS Foundation and the management of Shambala Private Game Reserve decided to expand upon the success of their own vegetable garden. 

The Shambala Private Game Reserve has been reconnecting people with the rich soil of the Limpopo Province. The vegetable garden at Shambala is so successful that they not only supplied organic fresh vegetables to the guests at Shambala but also to the guests of the   Saxon Hotel and the excess vegetables are gifted to members of the local communities situated closest to Shambala. 

Shambala and the EMS Foundation have established highly productive and organic food gardens at three local schools that are situated in the same district as Shambala. The schools are Boschdraai Primary School in Vaalwater, EA Davidson Primary School in Vaalwater and Moshia Secondary School in Alma. A fourth school, in Leseding in Limpopo will be added in 2022. 

The establishment of these food gardens has not only provided much needed local employment but importantly these gardens are providing food security and highly nutritious meals to the children on a daily basis.  

The children and the community members are benefitting from organically grown vegetables, this method of farming promotes ecological balance and biodiversity, enhances soil and water quality and conserves ecosystems and wildlife. The concentration of antioxidants is substantially higher in organic produce compared with conventionally grown vegetables. 

Nelson Mandela, the South African anti-apartheid icon, and the first president of the new democratic South Africa lived at the home of the Steyn family before he became President. This home now forms part of the Saxon Hotel in Johannesburg−the Presidential suite is named and decorated in his honour.  Nelson Mandela also spent time relaxing and reconnecting with nature at Shambala, in a house that was built especially for his private use.  

In 2002 Nelson Mandela said, “Giving children a healthy start in life, no matter where they are born or the circumstances of their birth, is the moral obligation of every one of us”. It is therefore entirely fitting that his legacy to end hunger is living on in these vegetable gardens. 

Images: Shambala Private Game Reserve

©The EMS Foundation 2021. All Rights Reserved.