Plans for sustainable farming and a new school.
DALESIDE is about 50 kilometres south of Johannesburg on the Sybrand van Niekerk freeway that brings one to places such as Vanderbijlpark, Vereeniging, and Sasolburg. Daleside, part of Meyerton, is west of the Suikerbosrand Nature Reserve and close to the Klip River. Once a white-dominated area, it is now where all working classes struggle to survive.
Recently, a 25-hectare smallholding in Daleside has become the focus of AWQAF SA, an NGO that promotes sustainable development, education, and social upliftment. A borehole producing thousands of litres of potable water was drilled and set up with a pump and a storage tank.
According to AWQAF CEO, Zeinoul Cajee, the land had enjoyed a developmental history long before it came under the aegis of AWQAF SA.
It was originally bought as a campsite for youth awareness programmes under the auspices of the Al Fajr Education Foundation. Many a youngster, some of whom became leaders in the community, spent time under the guidance of its learned elders.
“(But) after many years of lying dormant, the farm is now being put to good use, and we can realise the potential of waqf fruit tree farming via a reliable water supply.
“This is a concept of trust and community benefit. It originates from the orchards of a Prophetic Companion, Omar ibn al-Khattab – where over 1,400 years ago – its fruits were solely used for public benefit on the advice of the Prophet Muhammad [pbuh].
“We hope that people will donate waqf fruit trees (trees donated as a trust) where the harvest will be sold to provide funding for various charitable and community development projects within the broad AWQAF SA ambit,” he said.
“And water supply to a school we also hope to establish with its old buildings,” he said.
Ilyas Mohamed, who oversees the Daleside farming project, said the aim was to implement Part of the farm is already being leased to a young Muslim farmer, who has begun planting and harvesting marketable produce. The borehole will provide both irrigation for the farming operations a regenerative farming approach and create a small farm model that can provide a city wage for the farmer before profits.
“Our foundations are on the waqf and our style is permaculture – the development of agricultural ecosystems intended to be sustainable and self-sufficient. Through this approach, we can get more people connected back to the land. This is something we’ve lost over the last couple of generations,” he explained.