Re-Creating Awareness of Traditional Leafy Vegetables in Communities|
Voster, Ineke H.J.; van Rensburg Willem, Jansen; Van Zijl, J.J.B. & Venter, Sonja .L.
Research and extension in South Africa has been labelling traditional leafy vegetables as weeds since the 1960s when they started encouraging households to produce food seen in the shops. This negative perception has led to an unwillingness to use and conserve these 'poverty foods', as many community members have labelled them. The status of these crops needed to be improved to help people realise the importance of these crops in their daily diet. Awareness activities in six communities made use of production training sessions in seven schools and eight community gardens, discussion groups, garden competitions, cooking competitions, recipe collection, awareness days, local resource collection activities, participatory selection and a radio talk. Discussions about use and conservation status of these crops during the data collection phase stimulated discussions on various aspects of these crops and caused an increased awareness about the poor conservation status within the communities, leading to the appointment of keepers of specific seed. The local resource collection efforts and gene bank actions caused community members to appreciate their natural resources more and emphasised the vulnerability of the crops, and their important role in keeping the biodiversity available for them and for future generations. In an effort to create awareness of the traditional plants at all levels within the community, schools (where possible) and community gardens were targeted during the training and awareness campaigns. The awareness campaigns culminated in a school garden and community garden competition, as well as a cooking competition. Participatory selection was used to expose the community members to new crops and to variations in the crops that they know. Community evaluation of these crops created a better understanding for researchers and community members, leading to improved cooperation. A noticeable increase in demand for seed and training on production methods was the result of the awareness activities within the communities.
Leafy vegetables, Awareness, Biodiversity, Use