Small vegetable gardens, Mavis Mafune believes, are an important way to encourage the local community to eat healthy, fresh food and serve as a way to help in situations of poverty.
Mafune was diagnosed as HIV positive last year, and advised to eat more vegetables and fruit in order to stay healthy.
”Most people do not believe me when I tell them that I am living with HIV, because I look good and healthy. My secret is that I eat fresh vegetables from the small garden I have started at my home,” she said.
Because of the fresh vegetables am currently eating I can confidently say I am now healthier than ever. I encourage all my fellow residents who have got water supply at their homes to start small gardens, as it will save them money and they they will no longer have to buy from the shops.
“It feels good to eat fresh vegetables from my own garden instead of eating frozen food from the shops, which I do not even know when it was put there. I am now able to get fresh spinach and cabbage from my own garden free of charge,” she added.
Mafune is a resident of Tshiulungoma village, near Thohoyandou. “As the Nandoni Dam is supplying us with fresh water, I am able to water my vegetables daily,” she said.
Almost every household in the Vhembe area has now got its own vegetable garden. Villagers are growing spinach, cabbage, carrots and tomatoes.
“Because I eat fresh vegetables and exercise almost daily I am healthier than some people who are not living with the HIV virus. These small gardens go a long way in promoting healthy eating habits in the Vhembe area, which is one of the areas in the province which has got a highest number of unemployed residents.
“Because of the fresh vegetables am currently eating I can confidently say I am now healthier than ever. I encourage all my fellow residents who have got water supply at their homes to start small gardens, as it will save them money and they they will no longer have to buy from the shops,” she said.
Vegetables from self-owned gardens are higher nutrients than those that have been picked, stored and transported to retailers.
Mafune said she is keen to help those in her village who are willing to start their own vegetable gardens.
“HIV positive or not, if you eat fresh food and vegetables you will stay healthy and live longer,” she said.