The Film

The Thinking Garden

Welcome to The Thinking Garden!
View the film freely at this link.
If password requested: Garden

View select scenes from The Thinking Garden here 
Director: Christine Welsh
Written and produced by: Elizabeth Vibert and Christine Welsh
Cinematography and Editing: Moira Simpson
Assistant Director: Basani Ngobeni

A few reviews:
“A lovely film, rich with song and thought. Weaving the story of the garden with the bigger picture … renders the triumph of the women all the more important.”
Raj Patel, author of Stuffed and Starved

“Speaks to the essence and significance of
Food Sovereign communities.”
Bellise Omondi,
Food Sovereignty Campaign, South Africa

“Magnificent and inspirational.”
Anthropologist Julie Cruikshank

“This is a film for Africa – African governments should see this film.” Ida Makuka, Zambia
“Even in challenging circumstances, women can prove themselves to their community.” Dalal, Syrian former farmer at Zaatari UNHCR Camp, Jordan

“A revelation … I’ve definitely never seen a more effective and affecting film of this length.” Historian Jason Colby

Official Selection:
*Globale Berlin Oct. 2018
*Globale Filmfestival Erfurt, Germany Oct. 2018 (German subtitles)
*Canadian selection, UN Women Film Festival Amman, Jordan, Mar 2018 (in Arabic; English) *Pedagogical section, Festival Alimenterre, Belgium, June 2019
*Salt Spring Film Festival Mar 2019
*Cinema Verde International Environmental Film Festival, Florida, Feb 2018
*Semi-finalist, Green Earth Film Festival Los Angeles 2018
*Globale Mittelhessen Film Festival Frankfurt, Jan. 2018 (in German)
*ReFrame Film Festival, Peterborough Jan. 2018 *Paris International Lesbian and Feminist Film Festival, Nov. 2017 (in French)
*Toronto African Film and Music Festival 2017 *Kuala Lumpur Eco Film Festival (KLEFF) Malaysia, Oct. 2017
*Antigonish International Film Festival Oct. 2017
*Jozi Film Festival, Johannesburg Sept. 2017 *Vancouver South African Film Festival April 2017
*Vancouver International Women in Film Mar. 2017 – Matrix Award winner

To request a screening with researcher/producers present, contact Elizabeth Vibert:

Interview about food sovereignty “at home,” CBC Radio “All Points West,” March 2020

Interview about the farm with Cyprus radio station January 2019: Kaleid-her-scope on Soundcloud

Film review and discussion in Solidarity Economy News Aug. 2017, the newsletter of South Africa’s Cooperative and Policy Alternatives Centre, Johannesburg

Interview: Elizabeth Vibert and Tori Wong IDEASXCHANGE 29 March 2017 link: Women’s Empowerment and Food Security

Free public screening and launch

Wed. March 1, 2017  @ 7 pm We filled David Lam Auditorium  to the rafters! – and had an ‘overflow’ screening on March 15 University of Victoria

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

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, and offers land, community, and opportunity for women. In short, the garden has helped restore the lives of people pushed to the edge. Filmed against the backdrop of a new drought gripping southern Africa, 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.

“We watched riveted … [It’s] inspiring and moving to feel the strength and wisdom of these determined women.” Margie Cogill, Victoria Grandmothers for Africa

“Speaks to the essence and significance of Food Sovereign communities.” Bellise Omondi, Food Sovereignty Campaign, South Africa

“Heartwarming, thoughtful. A film not to miss.” Melodie Brandon

“This film captures something very special.”  Christine St Peter

“A revelation … I’ve definitely never seen a more effective and affecting film of this length.”  Jason Colby

Informal reviews: “I feel reverence.” “This is a film for Africa – African governments need to see this film.” “It’s amazing to me how we come to know the women.” “Passionate.”

See the story of the film’s making here.

Our warm thanks to the many donors and funders who made this film possible. Indiegogo donors, personal donations, production funding from the BC Arts Council, research and event support from UVic Faculty of Humanities, Centre for Global Studies, Departments of Gender Studies and History – thank you all!

Kate Braid, Elizabeth Murray, Sarah Noa Bozenhardt, Peg Campbell, John Price, Cari Green, John Lutz, Terrie Snelgrove, Tori Wong, Marlea Clarke, Joseph Sladen, Sarah Sladen, Ann Stahl, Christine Welsh, Garry Braun, Charlotte Warren, Alyson Hay, Laura Pentz, Jim Formby, Karena Shaw, Lara Campbell, Marj Akerman, Janet Fairbanks, Ros Penty, Pamela Spalding, Nancy Turner, Emrys Miller, Elizabeth Vibert, Wendy Farwell, Laurie Barr, Celene Lyon, Margie Parikh, M Vorama, L Fraser, M McKimm, Georgia Sitara, Sharon Boyer, Mary Billy, Lianne Payne, Chris McDowell, Jim Anglin, Jack and Nancy Jefferson, Tracey Barker, R A Hedley, Christine O’Bonsawin, Rachel Cleves, Lynne Marks, Gordon Walker, Kim Walker, Catherine McKercher, Jessica Schafer, Tiferet, Leslie, Mary Ann Zakreski, Andrew Gow, Ann Patrick,  Barbara Fielden, Lisa Surridge, Ann Vibert, Dell Catherall, Margaret Cameron, Marianne Yelle, Moira Simpson, Kathryn McCannell, T Sutclif, Jan Padgett, Helen Rezanowich, Jane Welsh, Graphic Material, Femke Woud, Philip Clement, Nancy Janovicek, Alison Shields, Randy Gomm, Gone from Hornby, Liah Formby, Peter and Sally Hatfield, Robin Ford, Allison Husband, Mary Vibert, Brooke Hatfield, Stuart Ross, Barbara Etches, Nancy Pollak, Adam Lynes-Ford, Colleen Smith, Ruth Kroek, Jennifer Champion, Mck Physiotherapy, Renay Maurice, David Roberts, Eve Joseph, Karen McIvor, David and Kate Preston, Karen Hickton, K Baggott, Eric Sager, Shirley Hebenton, Dawn Jones, Pearl McKenzie, Andrea McKenzie, Beth Clark, Donna Rennie, Kyle Rennie, Samuel Kerr, Martin Bunton and Saija Tissari, Sara Beam,  Paul Formby, Faelan Lundeberg, Elmarie Roberts, Patrick Bradley, Alison Malis, Derek Turkington, Todd Hatfield, Peter Campbell, Peg Murray, Elsie May Walker, Sylvia Jonescu Lisitza, Lincoln Schlensky, Christine Dewar, Jodie Walsh, Christine St Peter, Colin Chase, Arnold Kalmbach, Deborah Yaffe, Sarah Walshaw, Marguerite Heyns, Lize Van Rooyen, Flip and Riana Van Rooyen, Catherine Quinn, Jeannine Carriere, Lahaina Paradise, Wendy Wickwire, Robin Tunnicliffe, James Roberts, Susan Sanderson, Maureen Bradley, Thomas Morton, Katy Johannson, Christine Stewart, M Yorama, Svend Eriksen, Gabe Epstein, Susan Benson, Margo Matwychuk, Heather Pritchard, Veronica Diment, Helene Cazes, Claire Carlin, Glen Roberts, Gillian Calder, Katherine Akerman, Darlene Clover, Gillian Poulter, Elizabeth Murray, Mary Chase, One Gazelle …

Further information:

Synopsis  |  Screenings  |  Christine Welsh: Director’s statement  |  Director, writer, producer bio’s

To purchase or rent the film:
Moving Images Distribution

Contact: or

This is a story about radical innovators.