The Bonteheuwel Development Forum is transforming illegal dumping sites and public land where robberies are rife, into food gardens.
This, according to chairperson, Henriette Abrahams, is their way of responding to food security challenges in the community.
The forum has identified a few sites, some of which are disused school grounds (where school premises were made smaller by decreasing the length of the fences). One of these is a piece of land between Arcadia High and Arcadia Primary schools.
Work has already started on this land, with tractors digging up concrete and road surface rubble, suspected of being dumped there by former City of Cape Town contractors when roads were being upgraded in the area.
Ms Abrahams said many people were also robbed there while walking across the field.
“As it is, these fields are a problem for the community. We want to put public land to good use,” she said.
The forum has 34 “kitchens” in Bonteheuwel, which supplies cooked meals for residents who struggle economically. These feeding schemes are dependent on donations to operate. Lately, the donations started dwindling, and one of the ways to keep it sustainable, is to grow their own food, Ms Abrahams said.
The street names in Bonteheuwel is clustered by the same first letter of the street names – Bramble Way, Braambos and Bitterblaar roads, for example, are referred to as the B-block by the locals.
Ms Abrahams said block leaders identified several spaces that can be used to cultivate food gardens.
Among these is the disused land where Rosewood Primary School used to be situated, as well as parts of Cedar Primary, Bramble Way Primary and Modderdam High schools.
“The food gardening campaign kicked off on June 16. We also have home gardens, where residents started planting food gardens on their properties, and we asked churches and the mosque to use some of their land. We are struggling to supply all the kitchens with food now, but we are pushing through. The issue of hunger is real and sadly, it is mostly children who are queuing for food,” Ms Abrahams said.
The forum received permission from the principals to use the land. They are in the process of requesting the same from the Western Cape Education Department (WCED) and the provincial Department of Transport and Public Works.
Millicent Merton, spokesperson for the WCED, said the forum must make a written request to the school governing bodies, the WCED and the Department of Transport and Public Works.
“The organisation must submit a detailed business plan: the size of the land they intend to use, the duration, security aspects, water usage, how exactly the community will benefit, names and credibility of funders or donors,” Ms Merton said.
She added that the Bonteheuwel Development Forum stands a good chance of being granted permission to use the land between Arcadia High and Arcadia Primary schools, as it is being used as a dumping ground at present.
She said in future the land could be used for expansion of the schools, like a school hall, for example.