Residents of the Flamingo Heights settlement in Lansdowne will soon be able to eat from their very own vegetable garden.
Resident Nigel Africa enjoys gardening and landscaping – a passion he’s had since he was 13. In January, he decided to start a vegetable garden to benefit his community.
So in June, with donations of recycled soil, rescued plants, and seedlings, from New Earth Aquaponics, a non-profit organisation, he planted the garden, which has now become part of a wider project he is championing to uplift the settlement. Mr Africa, a keen carpenter, also uses recycled wood to create garden boxes.
It was thrilling to harvest lettuce and onions in the garden for the first time three weeks ago, he says. He has also planted beetroot, parsley, spinach, cabbages, chillies, green beans and chic peas.
The food garden will expand in coming months, and the produce will be shared among residents, especially the elderly, says Ward 60 councillor Mark Kleinschmidt.
Mr Africa, 47, will be teaching the teenagers in the settlement how to garden and look after the veggie patches.
Mr Kleinschmidt says the garden has improved the appearance of the settlement, while restoring dignity, responsibility and respect.
“Residents are feeling very positive about this and they have a really up-beat spirit. The settlement is a lot cleaner. People are taking pride in their residence.“
Many who call Flamingo Heights home are unemployed and struggle to buy food, so the garden will feed these needy families, says Mr Africa.
“Some people can’t even afford a R2 to buy an onion or a tomato,” he says. “I am very proud and excited about this. I will be able to help others especially the old people. This has always been a dream of mine and now it has come true.”
Mr Africa aspires to have his own workshop where he can teach carpentry and how to make things from recycled materials.