Working with what nature offers his passion

Mr Steven Mbilini in his vegetable garden that he planted on an empty stand.
Mr Steven Mbilini in his vegetable garden that he planted on an empty stand.

A resident of Khutsong Ext. 3 does not only know how to make vegetables grow, he knows how to make a success of small-scale farming.
The vegetable garden that Mr Steven Mbilini started earlier this year is already drawing a lot of attention.
Others are not only looking in awe at his healthy, large vegetables, but many are already buying from him.
According to Mbilini (58), farming is in his blood. He grew up in the Ventersdorp area
and, since his family moved to what is now the Merafong City Local Municipality,
he has worked in gardens and agricultural projects at various places in the area. In around 2002, he was, for instance, part of an agricultural project that farmed with about 1 000 chickens at Waters Edge.
‘However, I always hoped that I would be able to get a place to plant because that is my real passion and I believe that I can make a living out of it,’ he told the Herald.
His crop has earned the admiration of Mr Chuku Kerileng, a community leader
from Ext. 3. ‘I have never seen vegetables as big as this anywhere else in Khutsong, not even at the government projects at the schools,’ he said.
Mbilini grows his produce on an empty stand that he cleared himself after the previous owners moved to their low-cost house in Ext. 5. Although it was strewn with rubbish at the time, it did not put him off.
Despite receiving such praise, Mbilini reckons that his spinach, cabbage, beans and onions would be even better with a little bit of help.
When he is not working as a gardener at the SAVF in Carletonville, Mbilini spends
most of his time looking after his crop.
His dedication has also caught the attention of a local farmer, Mr Willem Kinnear,
who has offered him a small patch of land to work. He has also offered to mentor him to grow as a farmer.

In order to do this, however, Mbilini needs funding to get properly involved in small-scale farming.
Although he has the right attitude and knowledge of the soil to make a success, he will have to buy things like proper garden implements and fertilisers to make a success of his labour.
So far, Mbilini’s attempts to get help from the government have failed. If he should succeed, he plans to employ young people from the area to assist him.
People or organisations that think they can help, can contact Mbilini at 084 354 1186.
When approached for comment, a spokesperson from the Merafong City Local Municipality said the MMC (member of the mayoral committee) for local economic development (LED) had already instructed the department to compile a comprehensive list of all small-scale farmers and do an assessment of their needs and identify land suitable for farming in our area of jurisdiction.
The department will engage sister departments to assist where possible,’ he said.

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