Thandanani Garden Club

The Thandanani (love in Zulu) Garden Club is based in Mambulu Village, near Kranskop, in Kwazulu Natal. Established in 2000, the Club supports 90 women and their families sustain themselves through food gardens.

Thandanani came into existence through the efforts of Joseph Gcwabaza. Joseph apprenticed at Tlholego Ecovillage in 1997 where he trained in permaculture and community self-reliance. He returned to his home, Mambulu Village, in 2000 and set up the Thandanani Garden Club as a community-driven initiative focused on food self-reliance and local economic development.

Thandanani is a membership organisation, which presently involves 90 women from the local area. Their produce harvested in the garden has a significant impact on household nutrition. Many of the women are unemployed. Up to 30% receive no other form of economic support. Members collaboratively farm 12 hectares of land as a food garden. View this documentary by Ola Films for the story behind Thandanani Garden Club.

Key challenges that are being addressed, thanks to support from the GEF Small Grants Programme (Thandanani Final Report, October 2011) are:

• Water: A key challenge facing women in this area is a lack of water in dry seasons, river water not being fit for human consumption, and having to walk far to collect water. Rainwater harvesting strategies are being implemented, including water and storage tanks.

• Sanitation: Waterless composting toilets have been introduced as a cost-effective and safe way to manage human waste where no water is required.

• Youth: An educational programme involves the youth, teaching them the value of nature as a source of food, fodder and building materials. This includes planting of trees at schools.

• Medicinal / indigenous plants: An irrigation system has been put in place as well as a tree nursery to propagate indigenous as well as traditional medicine trees.

• Food: The existing community food garden  is enhanced through an irrigation system, storage shed and expanding local food production knowledge.

• The Thandanani Gardening Club is one of the beneficiary organisations in the Rainwater Farming collaboration with Ashoka fellows Paul Cohen, Nora Tager and Osmond Mungeni.

• In May 2012 Rucore will be worked with international expert Jeremiah Kidd to develop a set of appropriate strategies for rainwater harvesting, soil erosion control and biological farming.


For more information, contact Paul Cohen of Rucore on



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