By Nicole Ras
In a world where the environment is facing unprecedented challenges, a
recently formed partnership has taken a proactive stance to drive positive change. For a second year, Food & Trees for Africa (FTFA) partnered with BLUU Car Rental, a leading player in the car rental industry, to embark on a journey that would unite environmental sustainability with food security initiatives in communities across South Africa.
“At the heart of the partnership lies the core belief that businesses can be a force for good, driving meaningful change in the communities they serve. FTFA and BLUU Car Rental have shown that profit and purpose can go hand in hand, demonstrating that businesses can play a pivotal role in creating a better and more sustainable future for all South Africans,” notes Chris Wild, Executive Director of Food & Trees for Africa.
The first phase of this partnership saw the planting of 375 trees across multiple
beneficiaries in KwaZulu-Natal, Western Cape, and Gauteng. These trees are not merely a symbol of greening and reforestation; they represent a collective effort to combat climate change and preserve the environment for future generations. Each tree planted embodies a commitment to mitigating the adverse effects of climate change, contributing to cleaner airand a healthier planet.
The partnership further aimed to ensure that corporate social responsibility impacts went beyond climate action to empowering those most affected with the knowledge and resources to sustainably grow their own food. Food security and food sovereignty are becoming increasingly important in the face of escalating natural disasters, geopolitical stressors and hiking food prices that disproportionately affect vulnerable communities.
To begin addressing food security challenges, BLUU Car Rental has funded the distribution of FTFA's Permaculture Starter Packs (PSPs) to three beneficiaries – Includid Community Garden, Kunothile Agricultural Primary Co-operative Limited, and Sweetwaters Farmers. These PSPs included a range of food garden resources, along with training and mentorship, to ensure the longevity of the gardens.
About the Beneficiaries
The Includid Community Garden was started in 2020 after a drought had destroyed previous attempts. The goal of this project has always been to produce nutrient-dense organic food for the 70 permanent residents and 25 staff members that reside on the premises. The produce from the garden will be used to supplement meals for the residents who currently live on very limited means. The residents work in the garden and the aim is for the permaculture training they receive to equip them with skills that they can use to sustain themselves and potentially earn a living.
The Kunothile Agricultural Primary Co-operative began in 2020 to combat food security
issues in the surrounding community. The produce is 100% organically grown and is sold and donated to the surrounding community and schools. The project also works with schools to teach children how to grow their food. The members believe that these efforts will contribute towards food sustainability in the community. The short-term goal of the project is to increase the amount of produce that can be donated to more of the surrounding schools. The long-term goal is to uplift the community through skills empowerment and job creation. For this vision to fully materialise, the members intend to register the project as an NPO and create an agricultural social enterprise.
Sweetwaters Farmers began their food garden in 2022 with the intent of building a
sustainable livelihood for their community. The project leader has a passion for women'sempowerment and began teaching women in the community to create their own homestead food gardens to provide for themselves and their families. Last year the project assisted 50 women in the community to begin home gardens. Their goal for 2023 is to double that reach. The project leader aims to plant more trees and expand into a fully-fledged farm. Currently, the project donates seedlings and their produce is sold to generate income.
“The impact of this partnership extends far beyond the immediate beneficiaries. It sets a precedent for how businesses can and should engage in meaningful corporate social
responsibility,” says Robyn Hills, Head of Programmes at Food & Trees for Africa.
By addressing both environmental sustainability and food security, BLUU Car Rental and FTFA are creating a ripple effect of positive change in South Africa. They are not just planting trees or distributing gardening resources; they are sowing the seeds of hope, empowerment, and resilience in the hearts of these communities.