Group Report

Our group’s main objective was to encourage participation in food gardens through a participatory approach targeting a young audience (primary school children) as our primary audience and the general pubic as our secondary audience.

Our group’s vision is to create awareness around food gardens and through our media, promote the idea of food gardens as a local solution to the global environmental issue of food security. We have valued our independence as journalists as would therefore place ourselves on a 3 in spectrum 2, in that we have tried to practise adversary journalism, but at the same time have used the civic organisation Umthathi in Grahamstown as a reliable source and are giving them our materials to use in their food garden campaigns in the future.

We tried to articulate our objectives clearly from the beginning, but discovered that some of the ideas we had were impractical and unrealistic and not part of the direction our project was heading. We have tried to use our media outputs to educate both our audiences in different ways, but with the main aim of relaying the importance and security a food garden can provide a community and how they can get involved.
Through the various outputs of our subgroups we have covered quite a range of spectrum 1. We have acted as socially committed journalists by extending the food garden at Grahamstown Primary and making a ‘how-to’ sound slide using animated characters like Mr Carrot. The WEPD outputs, however, would be closer to 10 on the spectrum as we had a full page in Grocott’s Mail for three consecutive weeks and due to the publication’s audience we have taken quite a neutral and representative approach, while still raising awareness of our topic of food gardens.

We feel that we have achieved what we set out to do in the beginning of our project, and we hope that our outputs provide a sustainable educational guide as to how to build a food garden and a clear explanation as to why food gardens are a valuable and efficient means to curbing the food security issue that is particularly affecting the poorer community.

In terms of the group’s innovation and the way we conducted our journalistic approach, it was very different to a mainstream approach. Instead of simply reporting on events, we made events happen, and got first hand experience when researching our topics. We did this by extending the food garden, as was mentioned above, ourselves instead of letting other people do it and watching them. We actually got the children who had had prior experience to teach us about how to make the garden. Therefore, in a way our group and the children worked together in producing this form of development journalism. Although we were the producers of the story through our equipment, there would not be a story without these children.

We had always planned to take the development journalism approach simply because the idea of food gardens is a very developmental process happening in South Africa and it seemed like the most relative form of journalism that we could use. By taking this approach it also meant that we had the leeway to get involved as much as we could and still not cross the line of being volunteers rather than journalists. In the end we achieved our vision and mission statement through our journalistic approach and ended up doing something good for the community as well as getting interesting stories.

Our objective by using these approaches was to promote the development of food gardens in Grahamstown and more specifically to inspire the youth to become more involved in these initiatives. In terms of our outputs we had a number of different journalistic products that promoted this ideal, each in a different way.

The WEPD output targeted the greater Grahamstown community through Grocott’s Mail, creating awareness of poverty and hunger in our community and how food gardens are a sustainable solution for this problem. The brochure is a how-to-guide which is intended for distribution to schools in the area and can be used as a teaching-aid or general information guide.

The television public service announcement served as social marketing for the Umthathi Training Project, an organisation heavily involved in food garden initiatives in Grahamstown schools, which we tentatively aligned ourselves with because their goals were similar to ours. The news feature served as an assessment of food gardens in Grahamstown, confirming that the work of projects like Umthathi is sustainable and worthwhile.

The two audio-slides produced served very different purposes. One was a very simple how-to presentation, aimed directly at young children. This may be used in classrooms to create interest and excitement in learners, encouraging them, perhaps, to initiate their own projects. The second was a profile on a young student who is very dedicated to the maintenance of his school food garden. This story of hope, located within a development framework, demonstrates the possibilities of food gardens and will inspire other young people to strive for the same kind of success.

Food gardens as a concept enhances democracy and development in that they promote the sustainable use of the environment and teach members of the community to provide for themselves, thereby combating poverty. Having presented the topic in an appealing and interactive way, our journalism will mobilise the target audience to effect social change within their community.

Our group’s target audience is primarily school children and secondarily the wider Grahamstown community. The reason we chose this is that food gardens are particularly effective in schools as there is a need for their development, and there are currently some programs running within schools. In some of Grahamstown’s schools, children going to school hungry is a reality and we hoped that by informing all schools of the process of starting a food garden - as well as food garden initiatives in the Grahamstown area - we could aid and encourage development of food gardens. These skills, in turn, could be passed on to the Grahamstown community. We also hoped that by exposing the wider community to the benefit of food gardens through the various media outputs, the community would become more aware and mobilised to support existing food garden initiatives and possibly even initiate new ones. In this way we addressed our target audience more as citizens who are able to take information and make free and self-governing decisions, but we aimed to provide the audience with as much information as possible.

The various media outputs are tailored towards our specific target audience and the style, language and tone are appropriate. One audio slideshow is directly geared towards school children as it is an educational piece using Mr Carrot as a ‘mascot’ representative of food gardening, describing how to make a food garden in simple steps. The other audio slideshow is a profile that appeals to the wider community as it has a strong narrative, with the aim of encouraging action. The designed brochure with food garden information is particularly graphic and colourful to be accessible to school children and the community. We also used specific Xhosa phrases on the cover because many of the schools and people in the community are Xhosa-speaking. Tips and how-to instructions in the writing pieces and brochures are in easy-to-understand language, and the broadcast pieces are also in clear and simple English. Many of the schools teach in English and many community members are able to read and speak English. The articles for Grocott’s Mail targeted the wider middle class Grahamstown community, and as a result these pieces include strong narratives with a focus on local issues to encourage action from the audience. The television news feature is descriptive with different narratives of food garden initiatives, making it accessible to the ‘general public’, and the PSA appeals to those who can make a donation. These two outputs were particularly aimed at those in the community who are able to contribute time, finances or even labour to these initiatives. All the media outputs worked together to suitably cover the primary and secondary target audience of school children and the wider community respectively.

Whilst working together in a broad sense for the same cause for this project, we also branched out into separate specialisations to each take a sub-category within our broader theme. Therefore each specialisation had slightly different journalistic qualities and outputs with the Television crew making a news feature and a PSA, the designers creating a brochure, a Dvd cover and laying out the series of three Grocott’s pages which the writers provided the content for as well as for the brochure and finally the Radio students and photographers teaming up to create audio slideshows.

Because of the different mediums worked in, the different specialisations faced the criteria with different approaches and have therefore each drawn up the way in which they did this:


The ‘so what’ and ‘audience appeal’ factors

Our two television outputs were: a news feature documenting and evaluating the presence and development of food gardens in Grahamstown, and a Public Service Announcement (PSA) promoting food gardens as an answer to the hunger crisis which has been a direct result of poverty in South Africa.

The news feature’s lead begins with noting the poverty crisis within Grahamstown and stating that 83 percent of Eastern Cape households suffer from starvation. Against this backdrop, food gardens are investigated as not only a future solution to this but also a present one that is developing.

We showcased various food garden initiatives in Grahamstown to depict and encourage this development. Through presenting this statistic at the beginning of the piece, and expanding on food gardens as an affordable solution for the Grahamstown community, this satisfies the ‘so what’ and audience appeal factor.

The primary target audience of school children and the secondary one of the general Grahamstown community will care about a statistic as high as 83 percent simply because they are either affected, or know of people that are affected by this. It is specifically applicable to those schools that are underdeveloped, and those members of the community that do not have money or continual access to fresh food.

The initiatives and community members showcased in the news feature encourage development as they show ways in which to get involved and how to plant a food garden, as well as inspiring those who do not feel they can start their own garden by showing ordinary people who have been able to. This means that the news feature does more than just report on organisations and what they do, but it moves towards a more constructive, helpful approach, encouraging development by showing ordinary individuals with needs and deficits creating sustainable livelihoods. This focus makes the piece both informative and useful.

We were specifically aware of how we wanted to angle/frame this piece as it could have easily become a form of developmental journalism, promoting certain organisations, or alternatively just a form of mainstream journalism whereby a limited amount of awareness and mobilisation resulted. However, we wanted it to be different and we specifically included: community members who have taken skills they have learned from Umthathi to initiate their own gardens, a food garden initiative by Rhodes History students at a disadvantaged school, as well as ourselves, as journalists, helping to extend a food garden. This created an expansive look at different ways of initiating and sustaining food gardens without simply being a mouthpiece for Umthathi. Instead, we focused on them being one type of link and source of skills to go out and further individual initiatives and contribute to the local production of food gardens as a whole.

We also hoped it would encourage development and contributions in the form of donations. The story itself was carefully structured, so as not to place too much emphasis on organisations. We specifically decided to begin with members of the community and them telling their stories, moving into describing what Umthathi does.

We then showcased the Rhodes History students’ project and finally ours. This provides the audience with a broad view of food garden initiatives, interspersed with stories from people who have had personal experience creating and sustaining food gardens, and not simply official voices. Hopefully this will create a feeling of “I can do this too” from our target audience. Our visuals were colourful with detailed narration that gives viewers the information they need.

There was not much tension within this particular story, other than the fact that contributions are needed to sustain initiatives which in turn help others produce their own gardens by transferring skills. This problem was addressed through our narration at the end of the piece, as a type of ‘social marketing’, stating quite clearly that support from the community is needed for food gardens to increase and make an impact. After seeing the benefits and value of food gardens throughout the piece, we hoped this last statement would encourage action.

Our PSA was centred on a common occurrence of forcing a child to eat vegetables, and used an element of surprise as the dustbin in which the mother throws away the uneaten vegetables becomes the dustbin of street children who do not have very much to eat. The PSA ends with stating that helping to create a food garden can be a solution and the details to help Umthathi in this initiative are provided. Using a simple narrative with a focused powerful message, the audience will be provided with a solution to how they can help combat the hunger in 83 percent of Eastern Cape households.

Journalistic quality and depth of research

To produce the news feature, a great deal of research was necessary to ensure accurate content and quality. First, we embarked on secondary research where we found many documents and journalistic entries via the internet. On the completion we had the understanding that food gardens were not only South African but rather a global initiative that have been endorsed by well-known organisations. This gave us the understanding that food gardens had made a big impact on in many countries, helping solve problems linked to malnutrition and poverty, two problems experienced in the Eastern Cape.

To find out more about such issues at a local level, we then went on to complete our primary research, interviewing sources who had a good understanding of food gardens from an authoritative level, and, more importantly, from the grassroots level. Interviewees ranged from facilitators at a NGO, Rhodes University students and women and school children from the Grahamstown community. This provided representative voices of the rural peasantry while still remaining credible. Given that this is development journalism, we felt it was important to get involved with this development hands-on and helped with the extension of a food garden, thus giving us a better understanding of these gardens from personal experience. It was these local sources and the experience that formed the base of our news feature with the aim of giving a voice to the voiceless and substantiated, balanced opinion. Our PSA did not involve much research as it was primarily concept-driven.

Quality of media outputs

Our two media outputs complement each other well considering the initial aims of our project. Our PSA is a concise piece which serves to create general awareness about the need for food gardens in light of South Africa’s poverty crisis. Comprised of only a few very simple shots, the message is very focused. It is a quality piece in that it subtly but effectively advocates food gardens as a sustainable solution and also provides people with a means by which they can get involved.

Our news feature is basically a report on food gardens in the Grahamstown community. It focuses on the experience of people at grassroots level, and how food gardens are improving their circumstances. This piece is important as it further advocates and encourages the establishment of food gardens by exposing the viewer to their positive impact on the community. The two work well together as the short and simple PSA establishes food gardens as a concept which is beneficial to South Africa’s development effort, while the longer news piece elaborates on the process and provides visible evidence which proves that it is worthwhile.


The ‘so what’ and ‘audience appeal’ factors

We aimed to promote change through the distribution of brochures that were written, photographed and designed by us. The brochure detailed a how-to guide for those wanting to build a food garden. It formed part of our social marketing initiatives (together with the children’s audio slide), and strongly advocated the use of food gardens.

Journalistic quality and depth of research

We had not anticipated the need to design a DVD cover for the DVDs which were going to be distributed at local primary schools. Upon realising that the covers were completely blank, and would probably end up in the back of a dusty cupboard, we decided to print covers that would carry bright colours and symbols to promote the continual use of the DVD.

We designed the cover to match the design of the brochure, as in some instances the two would be distributed in conjunction.We did not create a paper-mache or graphic mascot as planned, as one of the audio slides featured ‘Mr Carrot’, a food-gardens mascot. We felt that since the DVD was going to be distributed to all primary schools in Grahamstown, we need not feature the mascot in our print output as the target audience for the print productions was our secondary target audience.

We designed three Grocott’s Mail inserts, which were published every Friday for three weeks. This formed part of our advocacy journalism initiatives, in conjunction with the other audio slide (which profiled a student who made use of a food garden), as well as the news story and PSA produced by the TV students.

Quality of media outputs

The Grocott’s page’s were well received by the readers who like the fresh idea and the brochures will be distributed on Wednesday at the exhibition where we hope to get a positive response.


The ‘so what’ and ‘audience appeal’ factors

Our output was published in Grocott’s so we took it that our target audience was the middle class of Grahamstown. We therefore tried to write our articles so they had strong narratives that highlighted a local issue so they would feel something for them and therefore be drawn into acting.

By initially highlighting a local problem we ensured the readers were drawn into our page, then we could put forward the idea of food gardens as a solution for both the problems of the poor and also the desire of the middle class to save money, impact less on the environment, and maybe even help the poor in Joza.

We had very strong narratives of the positive actions of people in Grahamstown who were working in the face of adversity, but were overcoming it. Due to our hands-on experience whilst extending the food garden we were able to include colour in the articles and we hoped that this allowed the readers to visualise what we did and therefore become inspired to do the same.

We then gave simple guides showing how easy it is to create a food garden, and while these articles were drier and more factual than the narrative ones, they were essential in conveying our intended message of the need to embrace food gardens. We feel that our stories highlighted a social problem, give a plausible solution to it, and also inspire the middle class to help the community and the environment.

Journalistic quality and depth of research

We decided to take a different broad theme to each of the weeks so each page would work on an idea and give a Grahamstown perspective on the issue in as comprehensive and interesting a way as possible. Our sources were gathered during the course of our work as we saw the need for sources to inform us about certain aspects.

Our first source was Umthathi and we create a good working relationship with them so that they could give us insight and tips towards further projects. This also gave us access to their planting guides so we could use them in our articles as background information and statistics inserts. We then gained access to a food garden at Grahamstown Primary through a source that one of the group members knew from her previous work there, which gave us the idea of going and extending their food garden as part of our project. Whilst working there we got to meet all the people involved in the garden and create a good working relationship.

Our interviewing in this case therefore came from a very participatory framework since we were able to ask questions with more authority and expect more respect from them and hence better and more forthright answers. For our other articles we had a combination of going to people that we knew and doing interviews and also doing interviews with people that we had been given, or tracked down, as sources. These interviews were conducted in a formal manner.

To back our findings up and also get a meso and macro perspective we did web-based research on trends in food gardens around the country and also globally. This particularly went towards informing our first article, which was about the state of food gardens and food security in South Africa and the world.

Throughout the three articles we tried to push the agenda of how useful food gardens are, but we kept our journalistic integrity and questioned each assertion that was made. One of our central problems with regards to this was the balance between working for the environment and for development for people in the community.

Quality of media outputs

The quality of the articles that we created for Grocott’s was to a high standard. Our research and hands-on experience meant that we covered every angle that we could given the time and space constraints.

The way in which we set out the three pages over three weeks meant that we were able to bring the readers in at the beginning and then lead them along until they ended up with a comprehensive knowledge of food gardens and what they can do, and how easy it is to create them. With the design of the pages we were able to create a holistic product that would have been appealing to readers and thus have caught their attention and got them to think about what we wrote.

The other media outputs complemented our work by focusing more on the schools that are desperately in need of the food gardens that we advocated. Between us we were therefore able to incorporate the whole of Grahamstown into our target audience.

Audio slide show 1:

The ‘so what’ and ‘audience appeal’ factors

The first audio slideshow was a social marketing piece for promoting food gardening for children. We decided to make a how-to-guide about how to make a food garden for the school or community that was targeted at children aged six to ten. We did this in two parts, the first being a nutritional guide explaining the importance of eating healthily and the benefits of growing your own food, using a character, Mr Carrot, who appealed to children. The second part was then the how-to-guide voiced by a learner at Grahamstown Primary School, Ganief Borez, who is very involved in his school’s food garden.

This was an important social marketing tool to try to promote the use of food gardens at schools in Grahamstown. We appealed to a young audience because they are the youth of South Africa and it is these children that have the possibility to change the way people look at poverty.

The Eastern Cape has such great problems with poverty and hunger and we as a group promote the use of food gardens to try to combat these issues. By targeting younger kids we are trying to promote social change with the youth around an issue that threatens lives every day in our local community.

This is a fun way to get across solutions for this issue and is a way that children will respond to because it looks fun and easy. It will also appeal more to children because the second part is narrated by a young boy just like them and when they see and hear what he has achieved they will see the possibility for them to do the same.

Quality of media outputs

The quality of journalism was of a high standard, this audio-slideshow was well produced, the photographs are strong and work very well for the purpose of teaching children how to plant a food garden. The animations of Mr Carrot worked really well and he is an appealing character. The Audio is clear and well put together, insightful and it works well with the photographs.

We think we achieved our goals at being able to find a fun way to get children to make active input into feeding themselves through growing their own gardens. The idea was to impact schools and the youth in general in Grahamstown and when we send the schools the DVD’s of the guide they will have a teaching aid that will be interesting and educational for the children.

This project has the power to achieve great things in terms of improving the lives of children in Grahamstown and our output will achieve its goal.

Audio slide show 2

The ‘so what’ and ‘audience appeal’ factors

From the photography/sound slide point, we decided to take a completely different angle to the food garden topic. Instead of using the food garden as a focal point we showed how a food garden had affected an individual’s life. This takes the audience on a more personalized journey through what a food garden can do and how it can help people.

Not only does this tie the two world’s together and put point into practice, but it also takes an in depth look into a truly unique little boy’s life. Gamat is only 12 years old, yet he has this immense dedication to this food garden, watering it and weeding it before and after school, on weekends and during the holidays. It also turned out that he was the man of the house and helped his mother with cooking, cleaning and other chores. He wants to be a doctor when he grows up and wants to help people. We never expected this story to be so interesting with such enormous audio and visual potential. The story has so many dimensions and such depth, appealing to all ages and class backgrounds. It is fresh with some humour, heart ache and inspiration.

Journalistic quality and depth of research

Initially our story was going to be based on Umthathi Training Project and the work they have been doing in the Grahamstown community. We conducted one-to-one interviews with the Project Manager at Umthathi about upcoming projects, problems they have been facing and future prospects for Umthathi. We used this information as a starting point before we narrowed our focus to concentrate on raising awareness of the benefits of school food gardens in local Grahamstown schools.

For this research we used the source of Brian Fitzhenry who had helped build a food garden at Grahamstown Primary School as part of a community service sentence. He then introduced us to the headmaster at the school and the children who were left in charge of looking after the garden. Our story focused on one of the children in particular, Gamat Borez who we maintained a very good relationship with throughout our production and who we encouraged to help us come up with ways to get more children involved in making and maintaining food gardens at home and in the schools.

With the help Gamat, his mother Aloma and the Headmaster at Grahamstown Primary School we were able to extend their current food garden and design a ‘how to guide’ on making food gardens, so I would say that we used our sources very well. The diversity of our sources was not very broad and was mainly focused on people who are experienced with food gardens such as Umthathi or people who have experienced the benefits of one such as the Borez family.

Our story of Gamat and of the Grahamstown Primary School food garden shows how it is possible to achieve this type of sustainable development within communities which will in the long run reduce the carbon footprint left on the environment and which will produce healthier cheaper and more accessible food for communites not just in Grahamstown but around the world.

Quality of media outputs

Our aim was to tackle the issue of food gardens in Grahamstown from all possible perspectives. The slideshow was a human interest story, a profile of a little boy who looks after his schools garden.

Given the range of audiences our outputs aimed to reach, it was important that we chose a range of platforms from which to present the work. Our topic was food gardens, a means of curbing the problems associated with poverty and malnutrition worldwide and, more specifically, in Grahamstown.

From this it is clear that our target audience is primarily the school children and families of the rural communities who can make a difference in their lives by growing a food garden. However, it is also necessary for the more privileged community to become aware as they are in the financial position to help the less fortunate.
Grocott’s Mail housed our one page feature over three of its weekly editions.

Our group focussed on development around food gardens in this city so the local newspaper provided an appropriate context. As this is not a free publication, the target audience of Grocott’s is the middle class. This matches the secondary audience our output was aimed at as the content documented the development happening around their community, thereby creating awareness and stirring interest.

A second means of output or distribution is the exhibition due to take place on Wednesday 22 October. Although the audience will be comprised of mainly the Rhodes staff and students, we have invited many of our interviewees as well as school children from the Grahamstown community.

The diversity of our audience will suit the diversity of the outputs as the exhibition we will display our print, audio-visual and television outputs. In the case where Grahamstown’s less fortunate community cannot reach the exhibition, we have placed major emphasis on the distribution of these outputs to schools and community centres, in the form of our brochure and DVD.

At the start of this project, our group was a little disillusioned as we were unsure as to how we were going to tackle the topic of food gardens when there were so many opportunities available to us.

Given the nature of this topic, we felt it was better to focus on development and so adopted the hands-on approach to food gardens. We became involved in the extension of a food garden which provided many of us with a new perspective on development journalism and encouraged us to get more in touch with the community around us and to address their needs. Soon we were motivated and enthusiastic and each group got along with their necessary projects, meeting new people and telling their stories.

Although the topic limited the range of work we could do at a local level, each group found a different path to take and enjoyed implementing their creativity. Our target audience of primarily school children allowed our visuals to be full of colour and pictures and, in certain cases, allowed the group to employ characters such as Mr Carrot to tell his story. Also, we were aware that our audience may not necessarily be literate so it was important to focus more on the visual aspects of our outputs. This creativity also came through in the sources cultivated as the range of voices veered away from the usual authoritative voice towards those at the grassroots level.

In most cases the journalists formed relationships with their sources that made the creation of these outputs more than just an assignment but what felt like ‘real’ journalism. The freedom given to us by our facilitators allowed us to take the initiative and make this work our own, bringing about further enthusiasm from the crew.

On the whole, it was this freedom that encouraged us to go in the direction that we did. Each of the sub-groups had their own focus, and went about their aims in a different manner. Each of the sub-groups made their decisions independently, and reported back to the group as a whole once the decision had been made. This is the reason that some of the media output concerns the grassroots levels and other media output serves the more traditional role, such as the series in Grocott’s. We feel that this adds to our original objectives, though, and strengthens the message that we are trying to get across regarding food gardens. It covers a broader audience and ensures that more people are likely to see our work.


About Ukulima Grahamstown

Ukulima means 'to cultivate' in isiXhosa and we felt it was a very appropriate name for our project since we are exploring how food gardens are a local and sustainable solution to the global crisis that is food security.

We are a group of third year journalism students that were given the topic 'food gardens' as part of our Critical Media Production course. We are a multimedia group consisting of writers, designers, TV, radio and photojourn students and have been working together, as well as with various civic organisations and community projects on a number of media outputs.

Even though this project will only last six weeks, we hope to 'cultivate' some change in our community and make our media outputs sustainable in that we wish to leave behind knowledge that will benefit people and hopefully lead them in the right direction in creating a food garden that will make them self-sufficient.

We are creating a DVD of all of our visual outputs, which will come with a 'how to' brochure and packet of seeds. We plan to distribute these to various schools, clinics and community centres in the Grahamstown/iRhini area in the hopes that we can encourage people to build food gardens of their own.

We are exhibiting all of our work at Barratt Lecture Hall, Rhodes University on October 22 2008, and hope that members of the community take a look at our efforts in promoting the idea of food gardens.