Meet the youth behind El Naturale, a Social Action Project that’s taking action to combat poverty and hunger

Ever wondered if you can make a difference in the world? We believe you can, no matter your age, financial status or education level.

Not yet convinced?

Meet Storm, Musa and Rafeeqah, three Grade 11 learners from Christel House in Cape Town, South Africa who are tackling food sustainability in their community.

In July 2018, Storm, Musa and Rafeeqah participated in the six-day Routes to Resilience Sustainability Leadership Immersion programme held at Grootbos Nature Reserve in the coastal town of Gansbaai. They were joined by twenty other young people from schools and communities across the greater Cape Town and Overberg regions.

During their Learning Journey at Grootbos, Storm, Musa and Rafeeqah learnt about the interconnectedness of living systems, about their complexity and circularity and about the feedback loops that drive them, positively or negatively.  They also got to experience first-hand what circular design for sustainable living looks like, from recycling waste water to grow vegetables for the restaurant to using food waste from the kitchens to make compost that enriches the soil.  

Key to leadership development and an important part of the Routes to Resilience programme is finding ways to apply knowledge and take meaningful action. Participants are encouraged to find their passion and purpose and identify ways they can tackle pressing issues of sustainability in their community. Storm, Musa and Rafeeqah put their heads together and the result: El Naturale – a Social Action Project that’s addressing issues of poverty, hunger, healthy nutrition, organic food growing practices and food security in the community surrounding Christel House.

The project is centred on an organic food garden that is now being established at the school and that will provide nutritious produce for a soup kitchen to serve the community.  It will also be a training ground to help community members and learners at the school to establish their own household vegetable gardens and learn about healthy eating and ways to grow food in small areas.

To get started, the El Naturale team recognised that they needed to gain hands-on training in growing and cultivating a vegetable garden. In September, all three of them got their hands dirty at a one-day workshop in Natural Vegetable Gardening with Soil For Life. The training taught the team about building nutrient-rich soil, conserving water and using available resources to set up and maintain a sustainable veggie garden. They also learnt how to build trench beds, about composting and mulching, and how to plant seeds and seedlings.

While the El Naturale team are still at the early-stages of their project, the Soil For Life training was a big step in the right direction. “We learnt a lot on the training”, said Storm. When asked what their highlight was from the recent training, they all chimed in agreement, “Planting the seedlings and getting our hands dirty”.

Since the training, Storm has rallied other learners to assist him in preparing the ground in the space dedicated for the garden at the school. Together, they dug a trench bed and prepared the soil with organic waste and compost that will provide a nutrient-rich environment in which seedlings will be planted.  

What’s next for the El Naturale Team?

Storm, Musa and Rafeeqah will be joining Soil For Life’s Home Food Garden Programme (HFGP), which will provide them with the foundational supplies of seedlings, seeds, compost and mulch to start. They will also be involving other learners in the process of setting up the garden, sharing their knowledge and teachers others as they go.

We can’t wait to see their garden teeming with veggies and are so inspired by their enthusiasm and commitment to taking action for a sustainable future.

If you would like to support the El Natural team, they need just £510 (R9,850) to cover their start-up costs for supplies, training and ongoing mentoring.

To pledge your support and make a donation, visit the Routes to Resilience Indiegogo Campaign.


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