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Last modified: 22 Jan 2021
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Turning dump sites into gardens of hope

17 November 2020

Kouga Executive Mayor Horatio Hendricks is spearheading an innovative, sustainable urban food garden initiative which will see 30 illegal dumping sites being turned into community “Gardens of Hope”.

The aim is for the gardens to provide valuable nutrition and sustainable livelihoods to local communities.

The Pellsrus organic vegetable garden, once a litter-strewn illegal rubbish dump, is now flourishing as a productive, clean and sustainable vegetable garden.

The vegetable food garden is the brainchild of Kouga Municipality and has drawn on the support and collaboration of organisations and business, including, Farming God’s Way, The Co Op Community Trust, Woodlands Dairy, UCSA Jeffreys Bay Camp Centre, The Bountiful Grains Trust, the Victory4All Foundation and Olive Tree Aquaculture.

Kouga Community Services Portfolio Councillor, Daniel Benson, said the surrounding community is excited by the transformation and that more residents will be trained and equipped to grow their own vegetables. The vegetables produced are helping to supplement the local community’s nutrition.

He said the Pellsrus organic vegetable garden was “more than just a garden” and provided hope to both the children and adults who pass by.

“Despite where you might be now, with hard work, care and empowering yourself, anyone can learn the skills needed to thrive and provide food for their families,” he said.

Hendricks said the municipality was supporting a number of vegetable gardens in disadvantaged communities.  These include the Victory4All King’s College vegetable garden in Oceanview, the Joshua Project garden in Pellsrus, the Wavepoint Church garden in Pellsrus and the Victory4All Rainbow School garden in Kruisfontein.

“We have been supporting these initiatives since 2019, with the projects now growing exponentially and producing an abundance of fresh, healthy vegetables,” he said.

The food garden is set out on a 60m by 20m patch of previously degraded illegal dump site land, which is now able to produce an abundant array of vegetables and herbs for the community feeding scheme.

A small food forest, comprising indigenous pioneer trees, fruit and nut trees, are being planted to provide shelter from the wind, a biodiverse green habitat and a supply of fresh fruit and nuts in the future.

An organic compost pile will be used to process organic garden cuttings from the area to provide organic compost material to improve soil fertility, soil structure, organic matter soil moisture retention capacity and cation exchange capacity.

A worm farm will also be used to produce vermi-compost from organic kitchen waste from neighbouring households and to provide actively aerated compost tea (AACT), a biologically-active, nutrient-rich, mild-but-strong natural fertilizer rich in beneficial microbes to inoculate and provide a biofertiliser for the organic vegetable garden.

The site is also used for training and equipping the community to grow vegetables at home, with a 1mx2m Garden of Faithfulness vegetable pack, complete with training material and resources.

The surplus crops, including seeds and seedlings, are donated to the community.

The Kouga Pellsrus Vegetable Garden of Hope will also provide workshops and offer training and assistance to adjacent community members to implement their own home vegetable gardens.

The principle of alleviating poverty by facilitating self-sufficiency has a long history

“It is the old adage of teaching a man to fish in order to sustain himself and his family for a lifetime,” said Hendricks.

The community vegetable garden is situated adjacent to a school and the training and mentoring at the garden encourages learners from schools in the area to learn and grow by sharing their knowledge with other schools and the surrounding community.

The aim is for the municipal vegetable gardens to become the Pellsrus community’s hub of sustainable intensified crop production knowledge and food production excellence.

The other successful Farming God’s Way community and school vegetable gardens in the Kouga municipal area have served as critical first-line food hubs during the Covid-19 lockdown, providing fresh, organically and locally grown vegetables, herbs and fruit to their communities.

“They are true food heroes at a time when food security is vital for impoverished and hungry communities,” Hendricks said.

The project gives hope that transforming lives and creating sustainable livelihoods will in turn lead to vibrant healthy communities with a bright future.