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News | Umthathi Training Project



Recently Umthathi Training Project were the lucky recipients of a rainwater tank donated by Galela Amanzi.
Galela Amanzi - meaning "pour the water" in Xhosa - is a Rhodes University student project formed in 2007. It has links to the North Eastern University in the USA - through the GLOBAL PACT Programme.

Galela Amanzi installs rainwater tanks in key locations in the disadvantaged regions of Grahamstown, providing water for irrigating community vegetable gardens, for cooking and drinking purposes, as well as keeping schools open when there are water supply problems. In this way, they promote healthy and sustainable communities. Since their launch, Galela Amanzi has successfully set up several rainwater tanks in the following areas in Grahamstown: Sun City Community Centre, Andrew Moyake Primary School, St Augustine's Church, Eluxwoleni Children's Shelter, and more tanks are to be installed this year.

In 2008, Galela Amanzi was elected as the official Rhodes campus initiative for community engagement, housed in the Centre for Social Development (CSD). From 2010, Galela Amanzi continues as a student society on campus. They collaborate with a number of local community organisations, including GRASS, the Kowie Catchment Campaign, Umthathi Training Project and Rhodes University's Centre for Social Development.

Galela Amanzi can be contacted through our deputy vice chairperson Abigail McDougall at

SCIFEST AFRICA 2011 - 4 MAY TO 10 MAY 2011

Organic vegetable gardening for small and large spaces

Date Daily
Time 09h00 - 11h00
Venue Umthathi Training Project, 4123 Xhora Street, Extension 7
Audience All
Capacity 30
Price R30

Umthathi Training Project facilitators will take participants on a guided tour of the various types of vegetable gardens that can be constructed in small and large spaces. The tour will take place at the Umthathi Training Project nursery in Extension 7 where the project has an established container, keyhole, tower, trellises and trench bed gardens. The tour will include how to construct the gardens, how to garden organically, how to plant foe pest control, water conservation, and how to include other useful plants with vegetables. It will also include information on some of our local medicinal plants included in the gardens.


Thembani Onceya - Grocott's Mail
Umthathi Training Project Members revealed its way forward to the Grahamstown community at its annual general meeting in Extension 7 on Friday ahead of the new financial year.

The meeting was attended by Umthathi's Board of Trustees, staff and the community. "We have trained more than 3,000 people from disadvantageous community and school learners in healthy living skills last year," Umthathi director Marlene Mitchener told Grocotts Mail. Mitchener added that they intend to improve the lives of the Eastern Cape people by developing their knowledge, skills and network in healthy living further.

One of the residents, PJ Mayi said Umthathi encourages community to green their yards and sell their garden products. "I'm hungry, not for food, but for Umthathi to give me more training and seedlings." explained Mayi. "I want to feed myself and my family, and sell vegetables to the community."

Reverend Sebenzile Plaatjie, Umzamomhle Ceramic Industry chairperson, commended Kholeka Ralo who facilitates trainings at Umthathi. Plaatjie said Ralo always made things interesting and easy when she facilitated Permaculture workshops.

Founded in 1992, Umthathi is a Non-Profit Organisation which aims to improve people's quality of life and their productivity by facilitating knowledge and skill acquisition on appropriate ways to make the best use of available resources


Thembani Onceya - Grocott's Mail
Umthathi Training Project taught more than 50 residents to green their yards during the Masilimeni training workshop on Friday 4 March 2011.

Umthathi managing director Marlene Mitchener told Grocotts Mail that of the 51 residents who attended the workshop, 31 were neighbours from Extension 7 while the other 20 were gardeners from various parts of Grahamstown West. Mitchener explained that they created five groups and each group spent one-and-a-half hours learning about a specific garden.

She said that the training covered pest control and the following types of gardens: keyhole, container,tower (or bag), trench beds, medicinal plants and Trellis. Mitchener added that facilitators discussed nutrition and hygiene as well as showing the participants how to make and use solar cookers and hotboxes.

Kholeka Ralo, Umthathi's Home and Community Food Garden co-odinator told a group of seven residents that they encourage as many people as possible to cultivate their own garden. Ralo added that the residents would be able to produce their own food in a sustained and self-determined way.

Umthathi's Schools' Organic Gardening facilitator Xolela Qinela taught the residents how to make a tower garden. Qinela told the group that gardeners create tower gardens when they don't have space in their yards. "You can use dirty water for watering," he said. When gardeners do not have some net they can use an orange's bag, he added. " In the nucleus of the tower garden we plant cabbages while spinach goes to the sides," said Qinela.

Extension 7 resident Hlumisa Bobo told Grocott's Mail that even though they do not have space in their yards they can still plant. "We should stop buying vegetables from supermarkets because they keep it in the fridge for a long time," said Bobo. She added that the training helped her to socialise with residents.

Another facilitator Xolani Mountain said a container garden would help those who do not have land but stay in flats. Mountain added that top soil and manure can be used when one makes a container garden. Mitchener encouraged the participants to start their own gardens and to enter Catergory Four of the Grahamstown Flower Festival Gardening Competition where they would stand a chance to win fabulous prizes.


Khanyiso Tshwaku - Grocott's Mail
Eight years after its humble beginnings in a shed on a hillside, a Grahamstown project training people to produce crafts now not only has a permanent home in the heart of the township community it serves, it stands out as an example of what can be achieved with vision, funding and hard work.

The Umthathi Training Project moved into its newly renovated premises in Extension 7 on Thursday afternoon and for project founder Irene Walker it was literally a dream come true. Noting that the project, established in 1992, had weathered the storm of changing social, political and financial times, she said, "It is completing the vision that I had all those years ago."

Project director Marlene Mitchener said when the renovation of the premises began four months ago, there had been many problems, but as soon as businesses and individuals got on board, the process quickly go under way. "We will never be able to repay you," said Mitchener of the sponsors - some of whom were present at the opening.

There was a special mention for local businessman Harry Rama for his contribution to the project, which has expanded substantially to include school gardens and so-called Africulture projects. Rama kept the guests entertained during his speech, saying, "I want this project to be environment-friendly and to make the other NGOs green with envy. We know Umthathi will rise up and fight hunger."

The multi-purpose facility, which was officially opened by Makana Executive Mayor Vumile Lwana, will be used by other non-profit organisations, such as the SPCA, the Jabez Aids Health Centre and Raphael Centre. Walker feels Umthathi should serve as a template for government projects. "Umthathi's work in the rural and local communities should inform government policy," she said.

"Umthathi has a sound track record and it is totally community based." Mitchener said phase two of the project would begin in February. "The builders will finish off the garage doors, and equipment for the training room, a stove, a fridge and basic utensils will be acquired,"said Mitchener.

Umthathi employee, Xolani Mountain, praised Mitchener for bringing the project back to the township. "This is Umthathi's home and it is closer to the people," he said.


Masilimeni Day - Ilitha - King Williams Town - 20 May 2011