Home food garden grows in bounds

Craig Parker, from Colorado Park, enjoys his garden nursery.

A Colorado Park pensioner won gardener of the year and was able to feed his family, support a local soup kitchen and sell vegetables to a Constantia restaurant.

Craig Parker, 66, won the Soil for Life home gardener award for 2021, having started with and competed against about 180 starters, from six communities across the province, who learnt from scratch to use recycled goods to lay a soil bed, plant seeds, nurse seedlings, pest control, toil the soil and harvest vegetables in their backyards.

Soil for Life, a non-profit organisation based in Constantia, has facilitators teaching people, how to grow their own food in their yards, improve their health and well-being, and nurture and protect the environment.

Mr Parker joined the home food-garden programme in February 2020, just before the national Covid-19 lockdown.

“Gardening is for everyone. It is to put food on the table. I sold chillies. It can be self-supported. Ons eet lekker because the vegetables grown in your garden are sweeter, more tasty and nutritious,” he said.

The weekly, interactive in-person programme initially had to be paused during the pandemic. It continued on social media and eventually Soil for Life home food gardening co-ordinator Sandi Lewis conducted one-on-one visits to nurture and mentor the gardeners.

Ms Lewis said the programme went beyond the weekly visits and would continue as long as the garden was of benefit.

Mr Parker told the Plainsman since his green fingers started showing, he had been gifted garden shop vouchers, garden tools, a borehole and encouraged to plough his backyard – to feed and generate an income.

The 13-week programme, which helps and teaches people to grow healthy, organic food using simple, low-cost, environmentally-friendly methods, is due to start in Mitchell’s Plain in the first week of March.

It includes step-by-step tuition, home visits and resources to grow their own food, rather than buy it.

Those interested can register from Monday February 21.

For more information, contact Ms Lewis on 073 159 2128.