Published by City Farmer, Canada's Office of Urban Agriculture


The Food Gardens Foundation


Grow Your Own Money

Excerpted from
Top Club Report
July, 1994

All over South Africa, door-sized plots of lush vegetables are flourishing. Their vivid green brings colour to a dull environment, and the plants bring nourishment to many a family. The plots are a tribute to a dedicated group of hardworking people who are teaching communities that growing your own vegetables is almost like getting something for nothing.

Victoria Seramie, an energetic grandmother from Johannesburg's Kliptown, is a star gardener and an example to many others of what can be done. Her neat garden boasts a wide variety of healthy vegetables, ranging from beetroot and lettuce to carrots and green peppers.

"We have vegetables all year round, and it costs us nothing," Victoria told us as she busied herself among the beds. Well, not quite for nothing because she may have to spend as much as R5 now and then! Victoria is an old hand at growing: she has been producing vegetables since 1986.

Apart from her own garden Victoria helps supervise a community project. In the back yard of Mrs. Evelyn Ndlovu's property there are dozens of vegetable plots cultivated by nearby residents. "These people do not have enough space, so I let them garden in my place," says Evelyn, a retired sister.

Men and women were busily watering and weeding when Top Club visited the project. Children played among the plots, and they benefit too, because they are from Evelyn's creche and get vegetables from time to time.

Joe Mobango, one of a very few trained black horticulturists, says that older people take more readily to growing vegetables than the younger generation. "People tend to think that vegetables are something you should simply buy - they don't think of them as something you can grow for next to nothing," Joe says. He is a field worker for the Food Gardens Foundation, an organization which for 17 years has been promoting vegetable growing.

"People often say that they do not have enough space, they have not got water, they cannot afford fertilizer and they don't know how to grow things. But there are easy answers to all these problems," says Joy Niland, Co-director of Food Gardens Foundation, and one of its founders with Pauline Raphaely.

"Many thousands of people are successfully growing their own vegetables. You need only a small space, it does not take much time, no fertilizer is necessary and the method is easy to learn," Joy says.

You will probably not have space to grow traditional crops such as maize, but you don't need a huge piece of ground to grow useful crops - it can be as small as two metres by one metre, the size of an average door. For a family you would need four door-sized plots, and lots of people have access to that amount of space.

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Revised October 23, 1996

Published by City Farmer
Canada's Office of Urban Agriculture