Maties and Distell join forces for vegetable garden project

The involvement of Stellenbosch University (SU) in the farming community of Middelvlei Wine Estate reached new heights with the launch of a vegetable garden project for the community on the farm.

Vegetable garden

Staff of Stellenbosch University and Distell and Matie students working in the vegetable garden (Photo: Justin Alberts)

This community interaction project forms part of the University’s HOPE Week which takes place this week. The aim of HOPE Week is to celebrate the successes of the University’s HOPE Project – a campus wide initiative through which SU uses its teaching, research and community interaction expertise to create sustainable solutions for some of the most pressing challenges in South Africa and Africa

SU has been has been involved in a number projects in partnership with the Middelvlei community in Onderpapegaaiberg in Stellenbosch over the past three years. The female residences Harmonie and Monica started an after-school programme on the farm last year and several Social Work students have work with children from the community.

The vegetable garden project also marks the beginning of the involvement of the well-known Stellenbosch company Distell in community interaction projects on the farm.

According to Ms Michelle Pietersen, Programme Manager of Maties Community Service (MCS)’s One-Stop Service, Distell contacted MCS about becoming involved in one of their community projects. She is optimistic about the project and hopes that, through this project, students will also become involved in some of Distell’s other community interaction programmes.

Mr Sarel Meyer, Distell’s Group General Manager for Business Improvement, was responsible for arranging the company’s involvement in the vegetable garden project on Middelvlei and is positive about the way forward. According to him, members of Distell’s staff will visit the farm once a month to help out with the garden.

Vegetable garden 2

Group hug! SRC members, members of the Drama Department (Photo: Justin Alberts)

“We didn’t want a project where we’d just be involved for one of two months. We wanted something more long-term. We want to walk a long road with these people and I think it’s going to happen with this project,” Meyer says.

Yesterday’s launch of the vegetable garden project consisted of two parts. For the first part of the project, members of the Drama Department’s interactive theatre class spent time with children from the community. According to Simoné Nortmann, HOPE Project Liaison and Student Representative Council (SRc) member for Leadership Development, the aim of this session was to teach the children how to “pull the weeds out of your life” and to deal with people who have a negative impact on them. For the second part of the project, the children joined Distell staff and members of the SRc in the garden where they helped to plant vegetables.