This 101-year-old man is ensuring food security in a hundred-year drought


April Jooste started tending to his parents’ garden when he was 16 years old. Within two years, he had completely taken over. Putting in hours of hard work, he was able to grow vegetables for his parents and offer a contribution towards easing the household’s expenses. That was over 80 years ago. Today, Jooste’s garden still provides.

The avid gardener is 101 years old and hasn’t abandoned his efforts, waking up early every morning for a cup of tea before heading to the place that brings him joy. He harvests enough vegetables to feed his children and grandchildren, as well as surplus food that is sold to locals in Clanwilliam. As the Western Cape experiences the worst drought in the last 100 years, farmers and gardeners are facing difficulties in maintaining their crops. The situation poses a serious threat to food security. Jooste is an example of how a little effort can go a long way to ensuring food is available without depleting precious resources.

At the end of 2017, the Western Cape Department of Agriculture presented an award to Jooste for his contribution to food security in the province at the annual Food Garden Competition. In particular, they recognised the garden’s water-saving attributes which include the utilisation of rain and greywater, mulching and other methods to reduce evaporation and improve filtration. As the deadline for running out of water looms, locals are scrambling to conserve as much as possible. Jooste’s methods of gardening ensure that he is ready to keep providing. His mentality is an inspiration to his family and community – and a reminder to conserve what we have now so we never have to face the fear of running out.