Tafelsig residents get free garden starters

Founder of Agri Urb, Shaun Cairns, Tafelsig Mitchell’s Plain CAN coordinator, Joanie Fredericks, comedian Marc Lottering and founder of Organic Earth Solutions, Jeremy Rezant.

It was with the awareness of fighting hunger during a pandemic that Tafelsig Mitchell’s Plain CAN (Community Action Network) celebrated World Food Day last week.

The driveway at the home of Tafelsig Mitchell’s Plain CAN was overflowing with people who came to mark the event on Friday October 16.

They received 30 boxes of Garden in a Box from Organic Earth Solutions, an urban farming organisation, and 10 vertical gardens from Agri Urb, an urban farming systems developer.

Organic Earth Solutions’ Garden in a Box comes with a manual on how to grow food. The value of the box is R750, which is less than what would usually be spent on a household for vegetables and herbs, said founder of Organic Earth Solutions, Jeremy Rezant. For every box sold, R150 will be donated to Tafelsig Mitchell’s Plain CAN.

“We are bringing the farm back to the city, one garden at a time. The Garden in a Box allows people to grow their own organic vegetables and herbs, save water while growing vegetables and herbs and start harvesting from 45 days on selected vegetables and herbs,” said Mr Rezant.

The vertical garden allows people to grow a garden in bags vertically hoisted to a solid plank on a wall. People with disabilities can also take part in this new initiative and grow a vertical garden, said founder of Agri Urb, Shaun Cairns.

People living in disadvantaged areas lack the access and knowledge on how to grow and care for food in their garden, said Mr Cairns.

“Good quality vegetables are difficult to afford; by growing your own garden, you get to experience making your own food. If everybody in the community grows a garden, it will be a big move for the people. Gardening also has psychological impacts on people’s lives,” said Mr Cairns.

The Carmen Stevens Foundation, which currently feeds over 18 260 people, five days a week, supplies community feeding schemes like Tafelsig Mitchells Plain CAN with dry ingredients as well as some vegetables to help them prepare cooked meals for those in need, said project coordinator for the Carmen Stevens Foundation, Deidre Vermeulen.

Charles Stuurman said he is happy to be part of the initiative to start growing a garden in the community. They are still in the process of getting access to a field in Tafelsig to start growing their garden, he said. However, some community members have already donated towards the garden he wishes to build with his team.

Special guest comedian Marc Lottering was the master of ceremonies at the event on Friday.

He has also worked closely with Ms Fredericks and the Tafelsig Mitchell’s Plain CAN and with a song, What about the people, which was a collaboration with singer songwriter Craig Lucas, drew attention to feeding schemes and their plight for funding.

Ms Fredericks has had help in her food security quest for the destitute, including from Springbok rugby captain Siya Kolisi and his wife Rachel who have eagerly come on board.

Ms Fredericks said she grew up on a farm and had a difficult childhood.

“A lack of food has brought us here today. Our president should work harder to provide us with food. I have asked the entire South Africa to help me reach our government. The song wasn’t enough to touch the president. It dawned on me that we’re on our own. We need to organise ourselves, as we are one of the only CANs still standing and feeding those in need. People have come alongside us and we appreciate all the help we’ve been given so far,” said Ms Fredericks.

If you would like to donate to the Carmen Stevens Foundation, contact Ms Vermeulen on 079 526 2887, for more information.