16 October 2013

South Africa: Growing Food in Cape Town's Homes

Local organisation SEED has pledged to make 100 homes in Cape Town more sustainable this year by encouraging residents to grow their own food and eventually achieve 'food freedom'.

For R80, members of the community can attend a two-day course in permaculture at the SEED Rocklands Urban Abundance Centre in Mitchell's Plain. Participants also receive two bags of compost, one bag of manure, seedlings, fertilizer, and a container.

Community activists will provide 34 hours of hands-on support, and assist with the initial stages of creating the participant's garden at their home.

Yoliswa Mahobe, facilitator for environmental education at SEED said, "You do not need a big space to create your own garden. A small patch, with a few containers made from scrap wood, or using plastic crates, is sufficient to provide a family with enough fresh vegetables to no longer rely on buying fresh produce from shops and markets. Members will still have to buy staples like flour and meat, but these fresh vegetables and medicinal plants will drastically reduce household expenditure on food and provide you and your family with fresh produce all year round."

John Scott, who lives in Mitchell's Plain with his daughter, joined the scheme in November 2012. At the time he was unemployed, looking for a cheap way to feed his family. He now grows a wide variety of vegetables and fruit. "With the experience I gained this year, I plan on growing more food next year and selling it. At the moment, I do not have enough surplus to sell it, I just give extra food away to my neighbours" he said. SEED also assisted him with a solar oven, a solar geyser which sits on his roof, and a water tank to store rainwater, encouraging him to make his home more sustainable and cost-effective.

Members of the "Hundred Homes'" initiative are also encouraged to build a sustainable home from recycled materials (using tyres, bottles and such) similar to the prototype house found at the Rocklands' Centre. The cost of a sustainable stand-alone home costs just under R100,000 - roughly the same as the cost of an RDP house. Building these homes on a larger scale would further reduce costs.

For more information on growing your own food and the Hundred Homes Project, go to: www.seed.org.za or visit SEED's Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/SEED.community.

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