Bellville food garden offers hope to the poor

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An urban food garden in Bellville is offering new skills work opportunities to the poor.

Warren Hewitt, CEO of the Greater Tygerberg Partnership (GTP), says the 300m² food garden, at the Safe Space centre in Aj West street, is a collaboration with the NGO, Mould Empower Serve (MES).

“We conceived the project during the hard lockdown in 2020 as a means to grow nutritious food, improve health and food security while enabling Safe Space clients to earn a small income.”

The Voortrekker Road Corridor Improvement District (VRCID) and MES created the Safe Space programme to offer safe and hygienic facilities to the homeless.

Horticulturist Paul Barker was appointed in February to train a team to look after the garden. Geoffery Ramazani and Dale Boshoof currently have that responsibility.

“Their training will continue to enable project members to address the challenges of growing food in urban environments and to help the project expand,” said Mr Hewitt.

Mr Ramazani, from the DRC, harvested the first crop of turnips, which was donated to soup kitchens in Durbanville and Elsies River on Wednesday May 26.

“The project has been good for me to be able to learn new skills that I can use in the future,” he said. “We work on the garden every day to make sure the plants are healthy and grow well.”

Swiss chard, spinach, celery, turnips, spring onions, beetroot, kale and bush beans are grown in the garden’s 16 beds.

“The project was initially started to supply fresh produce to support a soup kitchen in Durbanville and a feeding scheme for MES. Surplus produce will be sold to enable the garden maintenance team to earn money,” said Mr Hewitt.

There are also plans to double the garden’s size and build a composting facility and food-waste recycling depot.

Monique Muller, project manager at the GTP, said that last year’s lockdown had shown the importance of food security in cities and helping the poor.

“This garden is the first step towards addressing this issue and offers people the opportunity to develop skills that empower them to build more dignified lives.”

 

Contact Hilary Alexander at hilary.alexander@gtp.org.za or call 021 823 6713 for more information.

 

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