On the 18th of July every year we celebrate Mandela Day! This is his birthday and is now celebrated all over the world. Mandela calls all South Africans to give 67 minutes of their time to doing something good for each other on this day, to help where we can. Give back to the community.
My sister, Marion, and I decided to put on our gumboots and grab our spades and head to the Oranjezicht City Farm where we volunteered our time to dig, to weed, to compost and to plant. This wonderful project was started by a group of passionate people who wanted to grow a small-scale food garden in the middle of Cape Town.
Their vision is to improve under-utilised city green spaces and create hands-on community food gardens in order for us to have access to fresh, locally grown vegetables and fruit. Their slogan is “From a bowling green to bowls of green”!
This vision started in November 2012 and has grown into a real food garden! All that you see on this old bowling green was donated by dedicated supporters. The compost was delivered by the truck loads and the rows and rows of seedlings were lovingly planted by a caring volunteer.
What I loved the most was the beautifully laid paths with Table Mountain sand stones with a pond in the center of it, where the water is circulated by solar energy and drip irrigating the garden.
What also impressed me was the consideration for each plant and where it was placed.
The num-num plant (carissa bispinosa) was selected as the hedge that will protect this Oranjezicht garden from the Southeaster wind that whips through Cape Town and the Artemsia as a pest control. Spekboom (Portulacaria afra) for carbon control and lavenders surround the beds, bringing welcomed bees and butterflies in the spring. There is even a silly scarecrow!
The circle of life is so evident here in this food garden. The cut greens are recycled and the local restaurants deliver bags of vegetable peels that are composted into rich soil for all the garden plants to grow. There was a constant flow of volunteers, eager to get their hands in the soil. There were educators to help us understand the plants and their benefits and I could not believe how many heard this for the first time.
We all can learn from a project like this and the feeling of community was so heart-warming. This is the world I want to live in.
My next visit will be to the Saturday market where they sell the fresh produce as well as free-range eggs and home baked goodies.