Food garden eases pandemic strain

Gardener Ralton Petersen enjoys working in the garden.

Pandemic-related unemployment has made it harder for many to put food on the table, but a Kewtown community food garden is changing that.

Kewtown resident Aziza Hendricks and women from the Kewtown Walking Bus women started the food garden, next to flats in Kannabast Close, last September.

The garden had its first harvest of celery, parsley, and spinach in December, and just shy of two weeks ago, Ms Hendricks harvested mealies, squash, beetroot, spring onion, tomatoes, pumpkin, and onions.

Some of the produce recently harvested from the garden.

The garden is also home to lettuce, cabbage, mint, and spinach. Residents who can afford to pay for the vegetables pay no more than R5 for a bunch of what they need and some give donations.

The garden also teaches the community about organic foods, and how to build and take care of a garden, says Ms Hendricks.

The women attended gardening workshops run by the municipality last September to help them take care of the garden.

“We hope that we can grow so many fruit and vegetables that we are able to cook pots of food from it,“ says Ms Hendricks.

“We each give something and cook for the community and hand it out. It is a great need, which has increased because of the pandemic. We hope that one day we will have enough to not have to cook out of our pockets.”

Cabbages nearly ready to be harvested.

Money made from the food garden is used to buy more seeds for it.

“It breaks my heart when I see people and children begging for something to eat. This is my passion – helping people and being there for my community when they need me,” Ms Hendricks says.

Ralton Petersen works in the garden and says he loves his job. People walk by and admire his work and comment on how the crops are doing.

“This is something that the community needs,“ he says. ”It is a good thing. Some people can pay, and others just give donations when they can. They walk past and we talk about the garden and what I do here. I have made many friends.“

Ward councillor Rashid Adams says he is looking forward to seeing what the garden will look like in three months from now. He praised the women for taking the initiative to turn an unused piece of land into a project that helps the community.

“Urban farming is something that the City would like to grow across all communities, and we hope to be hosting workshops in more communities soon. I’m very proud of this initiative, a dumping site has turned into an absolute marvel and I look forward to working closer with them.”

Tomatoes growing in the food garden in Kannabast Close in Kewtown.