Evelyn Nkuna (left) and Rosina Masangu in the Thinking Garden in the village of Jopi in South Africa. Victoria resident and University of Victoria professor Elizabeth Vibert co-produced and wrote a new documentary called The Thinking Garden

Evelyn Nkuna (left) and Rosina Masangu in the Thinking Garden in the village of Jopi in South Africa. Victoria resident and University of Victoria professor Elizabeth Vibert co-produced and wrote a new documentary called The Thinking Garden

Sowing the seeds of change in South Africa

The first time Elizabeth Vibert entered the thinking garden in a village in South Africa, she was blown away by what she saw.

The first time Elizabeth Vibert entered the thinking garden in a village in South Africa, she was blown away by what she saw.

Women, mostly over the age of 60, tending to a 15 acre garden under the blazing sun, growing different types of vegetables such as butternut squash, beets, green beans, maze, ground nuts and indigenous vegetables year-round.

“I was really amazed that older women could accomplish so much on such a big piece of land with hand hoes and no mechanization,” said Vibert, adding the farm also had a water conserving drip irrigation system. “It was very productive.”

The Hlektani Community Garden was originally created in 1991, when the country was faced with severe drought, political turmoil and malnutrition. It was then a group of older women came together and decided to bring about social change in their community.

Named Hleketani — which means “thinking” in the local xiTsonga language, the garden has since blossomed into a community building tool that provides fresh vegetables to people in the village, as well as those living with HIV/AIDS.

Now, the garden, which is also celebrating its 25th anniversary, is the focus of a new documentary by Vibert, a Victoria resident and an associate professor at the University of Victoria.

The Thinking Garden is a 30-minute documentary featuring the women who have dedicated themselves to the garden over the past two decades.

It’s a cause that is close to Vibert’s heart. As the film’s co-producer and writer, she first came across the garden six years ago, while volunteering on another food security project in the village of Nkambako in South Africa. While trying to establish an irrigation system in the village, volunteers mentioned Vibert should visit the community garden in the neighbouring village of Jopi, roughly eight kilometres away.

The first time Vibert visited the garden, she was welcomed with opened arms. As she learned more about the women’s lives, many of whom lived through apartheid, Vibert was touched by their stories and wanted to share their success with the rest of the world.

“This story, though it’s very particular about this particular farm in South Africa, is also a universal story. It’s a story of people faced with dire circumstances, taking matters into their own hands and making real social change,” said Vibert, adding it’s also a story of what local farmers bring to communities.

“They do so much more than feed communities, they’re actually building communities in really powerful ways. This group of women farmers is doing that . . . in challenging circumstances.”

The Thinking Garden premiers at the University of Victoria’s David Lam auditorium on Wednesday, March 1 (today) at 7 p.m. The screening is free and filmmakers will be on hand for a discussion after.

The film will also premier at the Vancouver International Women in Film Festival March 8 to 12 and at the Vancouver South African Film Festival March 31 to April 2.

 

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Saanich police officers were one group of dozens that submitted dance clips to the Greater Victoria Festival Society, to help create the Dance Across Victoria video montage. (Youtube/Screenshot)
WATCH: Saanich police, Victoria mayor bust some moves in new Dance Across Victoria video

Montage features submitted dance clips from across Greater Victoria

Former Oak Bay High Grade 12 student Brandon Kip plays the $100,000 Steinway piano in the Dave Dunnet Theatre. (Black Press Media file photo)
Oak Bay High Alumni Association passes torch to new president

The association has given back more than $70,000 in its 16 years

Saanich’s Malia Brodie competed in the Vancouver qualifiers for the 2020 National Championships. (Photo by BC Sport Karate Snaps)
PHOTOS: Saanich teen awarded $1,800 Karate Canada bursary to pursue officiant certification

Malia Brodie, 18, has black belt, nearly 15 years experience in karate

This photo courtesy of Leanne Grover shows the immediate aftermath of the fire at 7987 Galbraith Cres. that caused extensive damage and displaced six residents. (Leanne Grover/Submitted)
Residents of a Central Saanich duplex ‘fortunate’ to escape Sunday morning fire

Damage to the duplex extensive with one resident said to be ‘catatonic’ after escaping building

After more than a year, open forums will resume at a Saanich committee of the whole meeting on April 19 with up to five residents having the chance to speak for three minutes each about any district-related matter. (Black Press Media file photo)
Public input resumes at Saanich council following lengthy suspension due to pandemic

Up to five residents can present by phone for up to three minutes starting April 19

Vancouver resident Beryl Pye was witness to a “concerning,” spontaneous dance party that spread throughout social groups at Kitsilano Beach on April 16. (Screen grab/Beryl Pye)
VIDEO: Dance party erupts at Vancouver’s Kitsilano Beach to the dismay of onlookers

‘It was a complete disregard for current COVID-19 public health orders,’ says Vancouver resident Beryl Pye

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Chrystia Freeland responds to a question during Question Period in the House of Commons Tuesday December 8, 2020 in Ottawa. The stage is set for arguably the most important federal budget in recent memory, as the Liberal government prepares to unveil its plan for Canada’s post-pandemic recovery even as a third wave of COVID-19 rages across the country. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Election reticence expected to temper political battle over federal budget

Opposition parties have laid out their own demands in the weeks leading up to the budget

A syringe is loaded with COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination clinic run by Vancouver Coastal Health, in Richmond, B.C., Saturday, April 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. to open up COVID vaccine registration to all B.C. residents 18+ in April

Registration does not equate to being able to book an appointment

Pat Kauwell, a semi-retired construction manager, lives in his fifth-wheel trailer on Maxey Road because that’s what he can afford on his pension, but a Regional District of Nanaimo bylaw prohibits using RVs as permanent dwellings, leaving Kauwell and others like him with few affordable housing options. (Chris Bush/News Bulletin)
Rules against RV living hard on Island residents caught in housing crunch

Regional District of Nanaimo bylaw forcing pensioner to move RV he calls home off private farm land

(Black Press file photo).
UPDATED: Multiple stabbings at Vancouver Island bush party

Three youths hospitalized after an assault in Comox

Selina Robinson is shown in Coquitlam, B.C., on Friday November 17, 2017. British Columbia’s finance minister says her professional training as a family therapist helped her develop the New Democrat government’s first budget during the COVID-19 pandemic, which she will table Tuesday. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. finance minister to table historic pandemic-challenged deficit budget

Budget aims to take care of people during pandemic while preparing for post-COVID-19 recovery, Robinson said

Each spring, the Okanagan Fest-of-Ale is held in Penticton. This year, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the festival will not be held. However, beer is still available. How much do you know about this beverage? (pxfuel.com)
QUIZ: How much do you really know about beer?

Put your knowledge to the test with this short quiz

Lord Tweedsmuir’s Tremmel States-Jones jumps a player and the goal line to score a touchdown against the Kelowna Owls in 2019. The face of high school football, along with a majority of other high school sports, could significantly change if a new governance proposal is passed at the B.C. School Sports AGM May 1. (Malin Jordan)
Power struggle: New governance model proposed for B.C. high school sports

Most commissions are against the new model, but B.C. School Sports (BCSS) and its board is in favour

Most Read