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Church land serves as a vegetable garden to help feed community
Restrictions introduced during South Africa's lockdown to fight the coronavirus have highlighted the need for the resurgence of food gardens.
In an attempt to help the community of Hawston, environmental consultant and natural scientist, Melun Jeptha and partners, are in the process of establishing a vegetable and herb garden project that will give residents the opportunity to grow food for their families.
The garden is situated on the property of the St Andrews Church in Hawston behind the Overstrand Care Centre and Ability House.
When the Hawston gardeners heard about the ‘One Home, One Garden’ initiative that is gaining momentum in the Western Cape, they asked Ward 8 Councillors Elnora Gillion and Arnie Africa to approach Masizole Mnqasela, Speaker of the Western Cape Provincial and the Constituency Head for Overstrand, to invite the Western Cape Minister of Agriculture, Dr Ivan Meyer, to showcase their garden for possible support whenever he comes to the Overstrand area.
On Tuesday, 11 August 2020, a delegation led by the Minister of Agriculture, paid a visit to Hawston where they were given a brief overview of the garden.
In her introduction, Melun Jeptha, said a handful of volunteers, started to clear the land in the beginning of May 2020.
The next phase (June/July) focussed on planting perennials and herbs to enrich and building up the soil, getting the compost going and by planting seasonal vegetables that do not require much water. Now, members of the community, primarily women, will learn how to make their own compost, how to plant and grow their own food.
She explained that once in production, a portion of the vegetables will go into the hospice nutritional programme. Plants can also be used as bartering currency and hopefully, vegetable swaps can become a new way to participate in the sharing economy.
As soon as the garden can produce a surplus, pickles, jams and preserves will be made which they hope to sell at farmers’ markets and/or restaurants.
Because of the water challenges and restrictions in Greater Hermanus, it would be ideal to re-use the greywater from the Hospice and to harvest rainwater or have a dedicated well point or borehole to make sure the veggie garden is sustainable.
Other items on the wish list include a proper garden shed to secure tools, more gardening tools, hay/straw to use in beddings, shade cloth and perhaps a Jojo tank.
Speaking from the site, Minister Meyer said projects such as this will teach people not to rely on government but to also do things for themselves and become independent – that is why every household needs to have a food garden as it will contribute towards the family’s food security needs throughout the year.
According to him, the WC Department of Agriculture provides a wide range of support and advisory services to help with maintaining and improving the gardens.
He urges residents to make use of the knowledge available at Elsenburg and within his Department and to make sure to get the most from the networking. He then introduced Hennis Germishuys, District Manager: Land Care for the Overberg Region and Jerry Aries of the Department of Agriculture who donated seedlings and compost to the Hawston Garden Club.
In closing, the Minister thanked Carolyn Martin and Ann Wright for their time and commitment and once again thanked Father Franken for making land available. "I am very grateful to have partners such as Old Mutual on board,” he said.
Before the delegation was given a tour of the newly established garden, Deputy Mayor Elnora Gillion said she hoped that the progress of the Hawston Community Garden Club will entice more residents to learn about gardening so that they too can grow fresh vegetables for their own tables.
Should anybody be able to assist, email Melun on firstname.lastname@example.org or Ann Wright on email@example.com