Clever about food security

At least 113 community gardens supply stores nationwide. (Supplied)

At least 113 community gardens supply stores nationwide. (Supplied)

The Ackerman Pick n Pay Foundation is helping to grow food security in the face of climate change by fostering an entrepreneurial spirit among small-scale farming communities.

“We have a number of gardens that supply our providers on a regular basis. Our technologists and buyers help the small-scale farmers to meet the quality standards required, at the same time helping to ensure sustainable farming practices into the future,” says Pick n Pay’s transformation director Suzanne Ackerman-Berman.

By educating people in sustainable farming practices, the retailer has been able to increase its procurement of locally grown and organic produce. At least 113 community gardens supply 15 Pick n Pay and Boxer stores nationwide.

The project establishes itself in a mix of rural and urban areas by offering to teach interested parties basic food gardening skills. Participants are given a starter pack comprising organic seedlings, compost and basic gardening implements. Excess crops are sold off to neighbours or community markets and the profits are ploughed back into the gardens.

The foundation has upped the ante by including business skills, financial literacy, enterprise development and marketing in its training.

“As a food-based company we recognise that the greatest need in society is food security. Hunger is a major issue,” says Ackerman-Berman. “But another important element is the empowerment of individuals as entrepreneurs.”

The foundation aims to extend its reach by establishing a further 137 gardens by the end of 2015.