The Giving Garden

The Giving Garden is a collaborative project between the Manie van der Schjiff Botanical Garden and the Pretoria Branch of the Botanical Society of South Africa focused on raising awareness about orphan and indigenous crops.

Over the last century, we have lost an estimated 75% of our crop agrobiodiversity and today 58% of global agricultural produce comes from a handful of commercial cultivars of just six crop species. Orphan crops are crops that have historically been cultivated as a source of food for communities but are now no longer due to a multitude of sociopolitical and socioeconomic factors. These crop species, their genetic and phytochemical diversity, the knowledge of their cultivation, and the heritage they represent are at risk of being lost forever.

The Giving Garden serves as a living library of these crop species and with the aim of making seeds, tubers, and other propagules available to home and community gardeners as well as provide basic training on their propagation and cultivation. Although we grow a number of species, our particular focus are on those which we believe have the greatest potential for thriving under tough growing conditions and better ensuring a harvest to feed communities.

Some notable species include:

  • Amara (Brassica carinata), a leaf vegetable indigenous to Ethiopia
  • Mutshaina (Brassica spp.), a leaf vegetable original collected in Venda
  • Egyptian Walking Onions (Allium x proliferum), an ancient cross between the common onion (Alium cepa) and the Welsh onion (Alium fistulosum) which originates from along the Silk road
  • Sunchokes (Helianthus tuberosus), a tuberous sunflower from North America
  • Yacon (Smallanthus sonchifolius), a tuberous daisy from South America
  • Tsenza (Coleus esculentus), a root vegetable indigenous to much of Africa
  • Water chestnuts (Eleocharis dulcis) an aquatic vegetable native to Asia and naturalised in South Africa

To get involved with the Giving Garden, contact Richard at [email protected]

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