Helping hungry families grow their own money
Claire Reid first joined the Virgin Unite family in 2012, when she enrolled in the Branson Centre of Entrepreneurship in Johannesburg. Since then, Claire’s company, Reel Gardening, has grown into a well-known South African social enterprise, enabling millions of families to grow their own produce with minimal water, space and time.
Reel Gardening’s newest project is working to deliver thousands of household garden kits to families in need – enabling them to grow their own food, as well as generate income from local vegetable sales. Below Claire shares why these kits are so essential and how you can help get them to the thousands of families ready to grow.
Our mission at Reel Gardening is to remove community reliance on centralised farming supply chains and give households the opportunity to grow fresh produce in whatever space is available, with less water, time, and education. Bringing food production back to townships, rural areas, and villages will contribute to local job creation and to the development of the South African agricultural sector.
We live in a world where the tap of a smartphone can result in a meal being delivered to a doorstep, and yet in that same world one in four South African children are stunted due to malnourishment, and 7,500 children under the age of five are dying every year as a direct result of hunger.
Food insecurity is a complex challenge that sits amid a myriad of social problems, though at a high level it can be broken down into availability, accessibility and affordability.
Food availability: Harmful farming practices are causing us to lose soil at 10 times the rate it takes to regenerate it - if we keep operating at this rate, the Earth will run out of farmable soil in just 60 years.
Food accessibility: 70% of South African households’ source food from informal markets, most of which do not offer any fresh produce (and when they do, a healthy basket of food can cost up to 65% more than junk food).
Food affordability: According to recent reports, a farmer is remunerated $0.13 for a head of lettuce, which costs them $0.20 to produce and package. Fresh produce is deemed unaffordable for many South Africans as that same head of lettuce is sold in retail for $0.93.
A truly sustainable solution must address all three issues as part of a joint ecosystem.
Our new app, The Planting Revolution, works alongside our ‘Gardens in a Box’. They are creating an agricultural ecosystem that secures high-quality, local food - and makes it available for community purchase through informal shops and partner agri-hubs. The app links each household grower to all the gardening education they need to successfully move from planting, to harvest, to community sales.
This equitable supply-chain solution provides nutritious produce, closer to homes and at a more affordable price – all while enabling household growers to generate an income, and informal shops to increase their turnover. Money is being generated fairly at every level of the ecosystem.
The United Nations recently reported that the world’s food system in 2050 will need to produce almost 50% more food than it did in 2012 and concluded that this must be done by producing more with less, preserving natural resources, and enhancing the livelihoods of the small-scale family farmer. The UN’s three-pronged solution is in perfect alignment with the Reel Gardening business model built 12 years ago – focusing on families growing their own vegetables with minimal water, space, and time.
The Reel Gardening model distributes patented ‘Garden in a Box’ kits to partner organisations in pairs, with each household receiving two garden kits.
The first kit provides a complete planting solution for a family of four to feed themselves one serving of vegetables a day for 12 months
The second kit provides the opportunity to grow surplus and sell fresh produce direct to the local agri-hub through the Planting Revolution application
Each growing kit costs $20, so for every $40 donated one household will be enabled to grow a garden for their food - and a second to sell produce for income. We have identified 3,000 households ready and excited to get growing. Your donation will help us get closer to supporting every one of them.
Our goal is to enable 3,000 households to start growing within the next three months, with the larger goal being 100,000 households by this time next year. All funds raised will pay for the growing kits and the associated distribution costs, and every dollar will have immediate and lifesaving impact.
If you can contribute, we would be incredibly grateful for your support. No dollar amount is too small and 100% of donations will go directly to enable a household to grow.
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