St George’s Church in Silvertown has a flourishing vegetable garden, thanks to a partnership formed with an organisation and a business.
Reverend Basil Davids said since his appointment at the church early last year, he had been “dreaming” about starting a garden there. His dream became a reality after Anne Siroky, the founder of The Future Factory, noticed the need for vegetables at the church’s weekly feeding scheme. The non-profit organisation has been distributing food parcels from the church.
After approval from the church board, The Future Factory collaborated with Trevor Bagley from Business Upsurge, a company focused on community agricultural development.
The initiative is called the Green Community Agriculture Programme – Green CAP for short.
Mr Davids said he saw so much potential when he walked around the church grounds.
“My love for gardening came from my grandmother. We had our own food garden in Heideveld. I saw so much potential at the back of the church plot to start a vegetable garden, and then Anne (Siroky) told me about someone who can train some of our parishioners to start the garden,” Mr Davids said.
Most of the volunteers working in the garden are pensioners who are parishioners of the church. Last week they harvested their first crop of parsley, which was used for the feeding scheme.
Ms Siroky said they recognised that the church needed vegetables so they decided to start the food garden on the grounds.
“The hunger was real, and sustainable projects had to assist the soup kitchen even more as hungry people became the norm now during the Covid 19 pandemic,” she said.
In March, Mr Bagley hosted a workshop for all those interested in working in the garden, and a week later they started working on preparing the soil. Donations were sourced to have the ground fertilised and to buy seedlings.
Mr Bagley said they started with five vegetable beds of two-by-two metres, and now they have 20 vegetable beds. The vegetables include spinach, beetroot, cabbage, celery and parsley.
“The intention of this project is that it becomes sustainable for years to come,” said Ms Siroky.
“The idea is that other faith-based organisations as well as schools can follow this example of not giving up when the chips are down. Solutions are achievable while working in collaboration with private companies and non-profit organisations.
“The Future Factory and Business Upsurge strongly believe that one cannot work in silos and that unity is strength. It was a remarkable way to celebrate The Future Factory’s 21st year of existence as well as add value to St George’s Church and the overall community.
“One of the most significant moments for us was to see how the seniors of the church took ownership of the garden project and one could see the joy shining within them as they continue to sow more and more seeds,” she added.
Mr Bagley said they hoped to extend this project to the greater Athlone area, using approved public spaces to train communities to grow their own food.