The Thinking Garden

Select scenes from the film (available here). The film will be available online in 2019, when we’ve completed our festival circuit.

 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.

The film was honoured with a Matrix Award (‘outstanding achievement in a BC short film’) at Vancouver International Women in Film Festival March 2017

“Magnificent and inspirational.” Anthropologist Julie Cruikshank

“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

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

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

“This is a film for Africa – African governments should see this film.” Ida Makuka

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

“The remarkable story of this community garden and the women who brought it to life will inspire countless others.” Ethnobotanist Nancy Turner

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

Review in Solidarity Economy News, South Africa

Informal reviews: “I feel reverence.” “Passionate.” “It’s amazing to me how we come to know the women.”

See the story of the film’s making here.

With generous funding from the British Columbia Arts Council. For other donors and funders, see ‘The Film’ page.

Further information:

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

To purchase or rent the film:
Moving Images Distribution

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This is a story about radical innovators.