“I am a ghetto gardener, igolide yaseKasi. Carry the spade and walk with us.”

Ludwe Qamata

Category

Agriculture
 

Organisation / Company

Sinovuyo Old Age Group
   

Profile

Ludwe Qamata, 35, lives in Khayelitsha, Cape Town, and became known as the “Ghetto Gardener” because of his hard work in community gardens. He is a full-time volunteer at a home for senior citizens, the Sinovuyo Old Age Group. He describes himself as an Earth artist and says that growing nutritious food for seniors is his passion. He also teaches schoolchildren, residents in Khayelitsha and older people how to grow vegetables and make their own compost in their backyards. But Ludwe has had to work hard to achieve this. He told the Food for Mzansi publication that he fell into “the madness in the streets” when he was a teenager. When he was released from a juvenile detention centre, he struggled to find work because of his record. His love for growing food stems from watching people gardening at a Shawco community centre. He then joined a nonprofit organisation that teaches people how to garden for and by themselves. It was from there that the so-called Ghetto Gardener bloomed. Ludwe not only grows food at Sinovuyo Old Age Group, but he has also worked with schools, shelters and orphanages. He says the loving hearts of his community inspired him to be the man he is today.

Qualifications

Permaculture
Agriculture
Carpenter

Achievements

Being an ex-con makes it hard to earn a living today. And it is hard for many young people who lack opportunities. Working as a ghetto gardener in the community helps me personally in many ways. I have managed to interact with my surrounding community sharing and exchanging knowledge and skills, which has motivated me to maintain a criminal-free record for the past 10 years. Through this type of project, I have managed to keep up and maintain my inner being.
Building a motivated community with a healthy mindset has kept me going while I battle to encourage my brothers struggling in the streets. Being a ghetto gardener under the seniors project has encouraged me to pay respect to all; and to love and care for everyone around me. I have learned to humble myself in awkward situations, thinking for others as well while I’m building my promising future. I have reached out to the entire community selling seedlings, which has motivated my beliefs.
I have taught primary school learners from my community to grow healthy food, which has inspired me to look beyond.
Developing organic food garden projects in my community, including household food farming, inspires my work to keep doing the best that I can with the few resources we have.

Mentors

Yes, many taught me the skills, knowledge and best information I share with my community today. Role models taught me to respect nature with its every little species.