The Thinking Garden – Documentary – March 1, 2017

A film telling the inspiring story of
South African women seeking food justice

This documentary film is a labour of love by director Christine Welsh and Elizabeth Vibert, with Mo Simpson and Basani Ngobeni.

Elizabeth Vibert spoke at the Scholarship and Bursary Luncheon two years ago about her work in South Africa.

  • Official selection, Vancouver International Women in Film Festival, March 2017
  • Official selection, Vancouver South African Film Festival (other festival applications pending)
  • Public screenings coming up in Toronto, Halifax, Vancouver, Camrose, Calgary, Powell River, Salt Spring …
  • Screening at the Berkshire Conference on Women’s and Gender History in New York in June
  • Informal reviews from advance screenings around BC: ‘I feel reverence’ ‘Passionate’ ‘This is a film for Africa – governments need to see this film’  ‘Beautiful and inspiring’ …

This is a film about resilience – three generations of older women in a village in South Africa who came together in the dying days of apartheid to create a community garden. In the midst of severe drought and political turmoil, older women with limited access to land and little political voice joined together, beyond the household, beyond their kin, to make something new. They named their garden Hleketani – “thinking” in the local xiTsonga language – a place where women gather to think about how to effect change. The garden provides affordable vegetables to local people, nourishes those living with HIV/AIDS, helps offset some effects of climate change, and offers land, community, and opportunity for women. The Thinking Garden tells the remarkable story of what can happen when older women take matters into their own hands, and shows how local action in food production can give even the most vulnerable people a measure of control over their food and their futures.

Current context: The Thinking Garden is launched against the backdrop of the epic drought of the past two years across Southern Africa. The most severe drought in decades, this climate change- and El Nino-linked event has left over 30 million people food insecure and caused soaring food prices across the region. Women, with less access to crucial resources like irrigation, and children are hardest hit in such disasters. South Africa’s Hleketani Community Garden, the ‘thinking garden,’ demonstrates how women’s collaborative efforts and community building can mitigate some of the worst effects of climate change.

Social media:
Twitter: @thinkinggarden, Web: Distributor:
‘Recipes from the Thinking Garden’ cookbooks available: $20, all funds to Hleketani Community Garden or