A humble wooden, portable box – otherwise known as GrowBox – is enabling people living in cramped housing conditions in South Africa to grow their own food.
The Cape Town-based initiative was set up by mother of four, Renshia Manuel as a solution to the difficulties of growing food in a cramped back yard.
GrowBox aims to take basic food nutrition to the people who need it the most, while fostering the development of sustainable and eco-friendly practices.
Poverty and hunger are rife within South Africa’s disadvantaged communities. The lack of sufficient urban land space jeopardises food security and puts many disadvantaged community members in a situation where they cannot afford to feed themselves nutritionally.
The disadvantaged mostly live in informal settlements, flats or informal backyard dwellings. It is not uncommon to see four different families sharing the same backyard, while such plots of land are usually not conducive for any kind of growing.
GrowBox comes with vegetable seedlings, compost, three hand tools and instructions. It’s available in a variety of sizes, ranging from small windowsill herb boxes to patio boxes and larger three tier boxes.
Each GrowBox, which can be customisable depending on user preference, is conveniently raised on legs for accessibility, making it easy for elderly or disabled people to use. Gardening workshops are also provided by GrowBox.
Since January 2017, GrowBox has reached 183 people and distributed 62 boxes. GrowBox also enables people to sponsor a box in order to help change the lives of a household in need.
In an interview with Red Bull Amaphiko, Renshia Manuel said: “As long as there is sunlight available and you can water it, GrowBox can provide you with healthy, organic vegetables anywhere.
“These boxes are perfect for people living in informal settlements, flats or backyard dwellers where space is limited or is the ground is badly polluted.
“I just want to change people’s perception that growing food is back breaking expensive work that requires someone with special skills. I want to make people aware that growing food is much easier and cheaper than they think.
“Hopefully we can spread this message to hundreds of thousands of people.”
Rosa Medea is Life & Soul Magazine’s Chief @rosamedea