A life from greens away from home

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Josiah Mucharowana in Pretoria

When all hope is lost, there is always another avenue to explore.

This rings true for Phineas Mapanda (27) from Chipinge who is eking out a living in Pretoria, Mamelodi doing vegetable gardening along the banks of a river passing through Nellmapious residential area.

‘ I have been farming vegetables for four years now’

” The whole idea started after I managed to get this piece of land. I had been working as a general labourer with a construction company.

“The work was hard. The hours were long. I would wake up early to get the first train to work”

” Eventually I budgeted for a water pump that I bought in the end,” he said.

Old pipes for water plumbing were salvaged from dumpsites that he uses to drain water from a nearby pool to irrigate his plants.

Mapanda, whose parents passed on when his only brother and him were very young had to be brought up by his grandparents.

His grandfather passed on too leaving him to fend for himself at an early age.

A former learner at Sakwinje Primary school in Chipinge, Mapanda actually did not go to any agricultural College or did any training.

“Nobody gave me training. I simply decided to do veggies after noticing the good soils next to a river,” he said.

” I took the area closest to the river, not for housing but gaderning,’ he added.

Later, there was a land grab that happened in the area with citizens putting up makeshift structures for housing,” Mapanda said.

In the ensuing weeks, he said, police and Tswane City officials came accompanied with the infamous “Red Ants” known for their brutality and no nonsense approach.

Settlers were evicted by force, he said.

The entire housing project was thrown into disarray but community leaders and police noticed a lush, thriving vegetable gadern and encouraged him to continue with business as usual.

“I was surprised to get the greenlight from the officials. I did not expect that,” he said.

Mapanda added it is unfortunate for youths to sit and mourn about unemployment instead of using available resources to make an honest living.

When asked if he would be more encouraged to take up a bigger farming project back in Zimbabwe he said he would grab the opportunity by both hands

” I would take it, as long as there is land and water,” he said.

Mapanda is married and has two kids that he takes care of from his gaderning venture.

‘ I cannot say I make too much money. But I make enough for my family,’ he said.

Sometimes his wife joins him in the gadern where they spent most of their time.

His makert mostly are locals from the nearby Nellmapious Extension 21 known as Marikana.

” Much of my customers are women from the Marikana settlement. They sometimes buy in bulk for resale,” he said.

The vast expanse of land is close to Denylin Mall while while brand -new automobiles at a Ford assembly plant shine on the horizon.

Fresh rape seedlings ready for replant sway in the breeze while mustard rape look lush and has proved to be a hit with locals.