Your piece of land has the potential to produce the food and job security we all need

Your piece of land could feed your family and the community or house a fully-fledged farming business that provides jobs to others, like that of former teacher Dikeledi Motsumi and her family. 

The Motsumi family supported each other to realise their dreams and established The Meadows, a 100-hectare farm in Kroonstad. They use tunnels and nets to produce mixed vegetables, such as spinach, tomatoes, onions and pumpkins. These are supplied to fresh produce markets in the surrounding areas as well as schools, guest houses and the local community.

Dikeledi explains that farming is definitely profitable, but it is not a get-rich-quick scheme, so you have to work hard and be patient to eventually reap the fruits of your labour. The Motsumi family started out on a small scale, by producing and selling to the community via small markets at shopping centres, participating in farmer’s day events, and delivering door to door.

This provided them with the opportunity to get to know their customers and learn what they really need, first-hand. In the process, they determined that the local government institutions such as school feeding schemes and correctional facilities need spinach, onions, tomatoes, carrots and pumpkins. The retail stores need veggie combos for soups and stews, and individual members of the community mostly need cabbage, spinach, onions and tomatoes. With this information, they compiled their growing plans and started expanding from there.

To produce their crops, the Motsumi family deploys a variety of farming techniques such as tunnels, growing nets and hydroponic tunnels. But what are hydroponic tunnels, you may ask? Well, hydroponic tunnel farming has been around in South Africa for quite some time. It originates from the early 1900s when it was discovered that plants can be grown very successfully in water instead of soil, which gave birth to the term “hydroponics”.

It was then further discovered that crop yields can be improved by covering these plants with plastic hoops, which are now called tunnels. Tunnels are often confused with greenhouses, but there are distinct differences. The main one being that tunnels are not heated or climate controlled as greenhouses are. As a result, they are also much less expensive than greenhouses, which also makes the start-up costs so much less. 

Besides, because of our warm temperatures in South Africa, we generally don’t need greenhouses to grow veggies. The list of advantages that one gains from hydroponic tunnel farming is almost endless, from being able to produce higher quality crops, to being able to produce more crops on a small piece of land. As you don’t use soil, it also eliminates a whole lot of issues that are typically related to soil, such as the preparing the soil, weeding, and getting rid of soilborne diseases.

Dikeledi emphasises the importance of having “growing partners” to help you grow your farming business, as it is impossible for any of us to know everything. Chemicals, for example, play an important role in ensuring your crops are protected, that you produce the highest quality veggies possible, and that you yield the biggest harvest possible. 

To this end, the Motsumi family rely heavily on the garden and farming experts of the Wonder and Efekto brands that have been trusted by home gardeners, small-scale farmers and commercial farmers – since 1973. 

A simple way to understand the key benefits of these two brands, is by looking at Efekto as the more “practical” brand that helps to protect homes and farms against those stubborn pests such as rodents and weeds, through its broad range of insecticides, fungicides, herbicides and rodenticides.

Wonder on the other hand, is the more “nurturing” brand, which helps to yield beautiful, bountiful and balanced gardens and crops through its range of organic, mineral-based and water-soluble products and fertilisers. 

What makes both these brands so loved, is that they’re also available in small packs, which basically makes them accessible to everyone. Plus, they help you to be an environmentally responsible gardener or farmer. To see the “wonders” of both these products in action, do tune in for the next episode of Niche Farmers, or visit www.efekto.co.za for more info.