Bulawayo Community Gardens - Building a Sustainable Future


With self-sustainability at its core objective, Sally has worked with its in-country partner Zimbabwe Development Democracy Trust ("ZDDT”) to establish community based vegetable gardens owned and run by the local communities - as a way to restore dignity, food source and self-respect.

The Bulawayo Community Gardens program is a community empowerment project which seeks to build the capacity of local communities in Bulawayo to become self-sufficient in food supply as well as enabling a portion of their produce to be sold to generate income for families to pay utility bills and send their children to school.

Overall, the project will improve the general well-being and the self-esteem of the participants, and develop a strong sense of community.

In the video below Mike is interviewed in the midst of one of the Zimbabwe garden projects by Chrispen Tabvura, field correspondent for ZDDT.

The Project involves 5 established gardens in Wards 15, 19, 21, 26 and 27 indirectly supporting almost 3,000 community members. Each Garden Community establishes its own Constitution and Committee to oversee and manage their garden under a lease granted by the Bulawayo Council. Some of them have commenced commercial operations to sell their excess produce at market.


The old manual hand pump (above) has been replaced with a diesel-powered one...


This unique community of 119 gardeners band together to maintain productive land...


Ward 21 was only established in 2015. See how it's transformed since...


Developed in partnership with the Australian Embassy Direct Aid Programme (DAP)..,


21 women manage this prolific garden and on-site childcare centre...

While Sally Foundation provides the majority of the funding for these gardens, we partner with GDG Australia who provides a governance oversight role. The project is implemented by the Zimbabwe Development Democracy Trust (ZDDT), a locally based organisation dedicated to creating sustainable development and positive change. Read more about our partners...

WARD 15 - Bulawayo Community Garden Projects

ward 15 training session

Ward 15 members receive training

ward 15 gardening crew with new tools

The crew were provided with new gardening tools

ward15 is flourishing - women are harvesting armloads of carrots

Ward 15 is now a flourishing garden

Details of Ward 15, the Luveve Old Age and Poultry Garden:

COMMENCEMENT: Established in January 2013, Luveve Old Age and Poultry Garden is located adjacent to a block of houses and is farmed by 19 families.

LAND AREA: In 2014, the original lease over 900 sq m was expanded by members to now include an area of 0.8 ha.

COMMUNITY BENEFITS: On expansion, the members decided to adopt Entembeni Old Peoples Home and make twice monthly donations of fresh vegetables. When they can they also contribute basics such as salt, sugar, cooking oil, candles and matches, using the money that comes out of their garden.

RECENT PROGRESS: In 2015, the original hand pump was converted to an electric submersible linked to a diesel generator and connected to large existing water tank for overnight storage. A portion of the water serves a nearby community.

FUTURE PLANS: The long term plan of members is to add a poultry business.

WARD 19 - Bulawayo Community Garden Projects

ward19 water options being considered

Ward 19 plan to upgrade this old-fashioned water pump

ward19 members working the field

Ward 19 members working the gardens

ward 19 harvest

Ward 19 is now thriving with nutritional produce

Details of Ward 19, the Kirimuva Garden:

COMMENCEMENT: Established in January 2013, Kirimuva Garden is located in Old Pumula Township and is operated and managed by 119 gardeners.

LAND AREA: The original lease of 900 sq m was expanded by members in 2014 to 0.8 ha.

COMMUNITY BENEFITS: This community garden is unique in that most members are middle aged and older who adopted grandchildren due to the emigration of job-seeking parents and consequences of the AIDS pandemic. A portion of produce and basic commodities are donated to Entembeni Old Age as a part of their social responsibility commitment.

FUTURE PLANS: A hand pump still in use but the local committee is exploring both solar and on-grid options to power a submersible to increase yield.

WARD 21 - Bulawayo Community Garden Projects

ward 21 before sowing

Ward 21 before sowing

solar power for ward21

The Sizinda gardens have a solar-powered water pump

ward 21 producing

Ward 21 families harvesting their produce

Details of Ward 21, the Sizinda project:

COMMENCEMENT: Established in September 2015, the Sizinda project is located in the former dormitory township for the once prosperous National Railways and is home to 15,000 people.

LAND AREA: 112 families are members of the Sizinda Community Trust that holds a lease of 2.2 hectares from the Bulawayo City Council.

COMMUNITY BENEFITS: The project area is divided into 112 family vegetable gardening allotments producing a wide variety of fruit and vegetables. The produce provides balanced nutrition for the beneficiaries and the surplus is marketed and the proceeds are sufficient enough to pay school fees, utility bills and introduce meat in the diet.

RECENT PROGRESS: Officially opened by Australian Ambassador to Zimbabwe, in May 2016, water is now provided by way of a purpose built solar powered submersible pump providing ample supplies in an efficient, energy saving manner. Read an account of the official opening on the GDG blog.

FUTURE PLANS: Recently the Australian Embassy Direct Aid Programme (DAP) has added their support for the Sally Foundation initiative by providing facilities for a broiler poultry scheme on the remaining area of the leased land. The additional income will bolster the Trusts self-managed financial resources to support households and provide for the establishment of a “village bank”.

This venture will indirectly support up to 1,200 people.

WARD 26 - Bulawayo Community Garden Projects

Emganwini ward 26 arable land

Ward 26 - 2 hectares of arable land

Emganwini working the field

Ward 26 - garden members

ward 26 irrigation

Ward 26 - irrigation in readiness

Details of Ward 26, with 150 family allotments:

COMMENCEMENT: 150 impoverished residents kicked off this project in April 2016 when they identified a suitable piece of land following inspiration gained from the successful Sizinda project at nearby Ward 21.

Funding has been committed by Sally Foundation and the Australian Embassy Direct Aid Programme (DAP) to establish the infrastructure and deliver training to bring the garden into production. It will benefit the members and their families, a majority of which are women.

LAND AREA: The project is a joint development with DAP and builds on the strong relationship created at the Sizinda garden in Ward 21. It occupies just over 3 hectares of which over 2 hectares is arable. The remaining portion is rocky but is suitable for the creation of an orchard which will then augment the growing of vegetables with fruit to enable value addition in the form of manufactured pickles, preserves, jams and such like.

COMMUNITY BENEFITS: The Project is divided into 150 family vegetable growing allotments. It was conceived by the members themselves who raised $500 of their own volition as a show of self-help and obtained, at their cost, all approvals and permits from the Bulawayo City Council and other regulatory authorities.

Special agricultural training will be provided by "Go Green", a supplier of packed fresh vegetables to the Pick 'n Pay supermarket chain.

RECENT PROGRESS: The borehole, for an independent solar power source, was successfully sunk in mid July 2017. This will greatly assist both productivity of the garden and lower production costs but also enable the garden to be lit at night.

FUTURE PLANS: The garden has been established on the basis that members will allocate a portion of their income to build capital in a "village bank" which, when established, will facilitate the funding of other small business initiatives by garden members.

Self-help ownership and empowerment in action!

WARD 27 - Bulawayo Community Garden Projects

the childcare facility at ward 27

Ward 27 - the womens garden - includes a childcare facility

ward 27 is a womens only garden

Ward 27 women receive education and training

ward 27 produce gardens

The gardens at Ward 27 are producing well

Details of Ward 27, the Women’s Daycare Centre and Garden:

COMMENCEMENT: Established in January 2013, the Women’s Day care Centre and Garden is located in Pumula South Township and comprises 21 women in a women’s only garden (with a recent addition of one of the husbands).

LAND AREA: The original lease of 900 sq m was expanded by the women in early 2015 and this more than doubled the acreage.

COMMUNITY BENEFITS: As well as the gardens, there is a small church and 4 business units that have been established adjacent to the house offering services a such as LPG gas, mobile phone cards, carpentry and a brick making enterprise.

This now constitutes a community business hub with potential for further growth. Direct and indirect beneficiaries total over 200.

RECENT PROGRESS: An old house has been partly refurbished and two toilets restored to comply with municipal health regulations. This is used as the Daycare centre.

A hand pump has been converted to diesel power drawing from an old well situated within the extended lease area.

COMMERCIAL Garden Precincts

produce to sell at market

Supplying produce commercially to Pick 'n Pay


The newly trademarked MaSiziba's brand, and Sally Foundation logo appear on packaged produce

earning money for their hard work in the field

Sizinda members with their first payment from selling produce

PARTNERSHIP: Sally Foundation is working with Go Green to establish Commercial Garden Precincts within each of the Community Gardens. These precincts would enter into commercial supply agreements with Pick ‘n Pay supermarket as an accredited supplier. This has been made possible due to Go Green having their own brand as well as existing approved status as a supplier to Pick 'n Pay and their willingness to apply their expertise to helping and training the garden members.

CONCEPT: The concept came after the Sally Foundation cooking school was held across the Wards (15, 19, 21 and 27) in early 2017. Go Green, who ran the cooking school, saw Ward 21 with its 100 family beneficiaries and large independent water supply, as providing an opportunity to grow members' income and upskill members. They suggested to Sally Foundation that we encourage members of the large 1.5 hectare Sizinda garden to convert part to a commercial garden who would then seek to supply Pick 'n Pay supermarket. A relationship was born.

A commercial supply relationship is very different to growing for one’s own consumption or supply into the local community. It involves dependant supply, quality assurance, packaging, on-time delivery, etc. and hence requires careful selection of suitable produce, enhanced composting and sourcing of seedling and quality control. Much activity ensued to bring this idea into reality - outgrowing contract terms, product acceptance by Pick 'n Pay, enhanced project governance.

EXPANSION TO OTHER GARDENS: Go Green have been working with Sally Foundation and ZDDT to implement Commercial Garden Precincts into other gardens –as and when they are ready and capable. Ward 26 which is a 3.6 hectare garden established in late 2017 incorporated a commercial garden from the outset and this has proved very successful and planning and training and good practices all happened from the outset. Ward 19 is underway post solving some issue of Governance and inadequate water supply.

BRAND and PRODUCT MARKETING:  Sally Foundation has established its own brand "Ma Siziba" and secured a registered Trademark protection. Product labels have been prepared and supply has been occurring on a regular basis.

CHALLENGES: There are many challenges to be overcome including the need to educate and train members to grow to a high standard, cope with disease and extreme climate variations, interruptions of the water source due to solar pump variability. The most significant is Governance to ensure that the members retain control of their own destiny and that this is not ‘captured’ by ambitious committee members or Trustees in an environment where intimidation has been the norm for over 30 years..

BENEFITS: This commercialisation will greatly improve the incomes of the participating beneficiaries. This initiative augurs well for improvement in community wellbeing and income.