Archive for the ‘agricultural rural cooperatives’ Category

Part 4: Growing Fresh Organic Food

This is my final episode of the four part series about growing fresh organic food in the cities as well as in rural establishments.

With less and less land available in cities today, people are trying to make the most of the open space that are available. In Britain they have developed “seed bombs” and other simple ways to plant seeds covertly. “Please water me” signs have been placed some sites to encourage people to take ownership of these spaces.

Back in Durban, there has been a call for all citizens to start growing their own food to increase their own food security, to become healthier and to combat climate change by reducing the distances food is transported. Meanwhile, Martin Clement of the Durban Botanic Gardens regularly takes children out at night to garden a specific site in the city, getting them interested in gardening and beautifying the city. These initiatives show how we can all make an effort to beautify our open spaces in the city, to make unproductive space productive, and “take back forgotten gardens”. Municipalities have limited resources and cannot maintain our public open spaces; they are for the public after all!

Fresh Organic Food

Fresh Organic Food

Steps to developing your own “guerrilla garden” in your area:

1. Identify a piece of unused land in your community

2. Consult your local Parks Department to get access to the land

3. Do some research on permaculture techniques and planting sustainably. Paula Osborne at +27 (0) 84 444 4657 or earthfirst@absamail.co.za and Martin Clement at the Durban Botanic Garden, clementm@durban.gov.za, are specialist in planting sustainibily. Books to read include “Food Forests the Permaculture Way” by Geoff Lawton and “Guerrilla Gardening” by Richard Reynolds. An insightful documentary entitled “The Power of Community” on Cuba’s example how they Survived Peak Oil.

4. Plan an outline of the garden and consult th eParks Department to find out what kind of plants grow well together. Contact Manisha Arbuckle at arbucklem@durban.gov.za for advice.

5. Invlove businesses in your area to help fund seeds and garden tools for the initiative.

6. Involve your community (agricultural rural cooperatives). Have gardening fun days and get children involved.

7. Instead of food, you can plant flowers to beautify verges and open spaces. Make sure the plants are indigenous to the area so that indigeneous birds will be attracted and an outbreak of exotic plants does not occur.

8. Most of all have fun!

For more information see: www.guerrillagardening.org


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Part 3: Growing Fresh Organic Food

Planing an assortment of vegetables and food tree in an organic manner, rather than a monoculture, creates a “food forest” that tries to emulate nature. This helps to prevent the soil being drained. By planting plants that complement each other, pesticides and chemicals can be avoided.

Agricultural Rural Cooperatives

Citizen Vegetable Gardening

Frank and Tina decided to start small and advise others to do the same. But guerrilla gardening could certainly be done on a larger scale in Durban and by the agricultural cooperatives in rural areas, with people taking ownership of the spaces in their communities to beautify them and perhaps grow food for the of a particulr area. Tina and Frank have shown that this can be done and that with a bit of hard work, food can be grown in a sustainable way that helps tackle poverty and feed the communities.

Elsewhere in the world similar projects have been on the go for quite some time. The people in Cuba have put permaculture techniques to good use, transforming much unused spaces into food forestst. In 1989 when the Soviet Union fell, Cuba stopped receiving food from outside of the country. People started to grow food in open, unused spaces to address the food shortages. Over time government set guidelines and all the gardens became organic and made use of permaculture techniques. Today, up to 70% of Cuba’s frsh produce is grown that way and people are living healthier lives as they are working in their gardens and eating the organic food they produce.

In Britain most guerrilla gardening involves beautifyng areas with flowers and other plants to increase the aesthetic appeal of cities. There, guerrilla gardening is classified as “criminal damage”, which is why mostly takes place at night. For people without their own gardens, guerrilla gardening gives them a way to connect with nature and to produce something of beauty and of value to passersby in the city

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 Part 2: Growing Fresh Organic Food

As promised, here’s  my second article to the sequel “Citizen Vegetable Gardening“. It is written, “While the earth remains, seed time and harvest…shall not cease” NKJ. Please note that the same principle can be applied in rural areas by the rural agricultural cooperatives. They should grow their vegetation and supply the produce to the city markets.

With the guidance of Paula and Richard Pocok, and Geoff Lawton’s writings on permaculture, the garden has produced an abudant harvest. It has also generated much interest from the community and passerby smile, seeming to aknowledge the initiative. The people of the area are curious because the garden offers a different look to public open space. Tina and Frank have been open about the food being free and the garden is not fenced. They believe the food must be taken by those who need it – including the monkeys – and eaten, not sold.  At first, they had worried the food would end up being sold on the corner, but this hasn’t happened and the community seems to respect the garden.

rural cooperative

Rural Cooperatives

Frank and Tina are keen for others to start food gardens too, but warned would- be gardeners that it takes enthusiasm and energy to succeed. The garden cannot be left to tend itself so expect a fair bit of work. Food gardeners are long-term initiative and to stay the distance the gardeners need to be passionate about uplifting their community and must have a love for the outdoors.

The vegetables need to be planted on a patch that gets at least six hours of sun a day, if they are to thrive. initially, lots of water is needed and must be readily available, perhaps from a nearby property, with the owner’s consent, as in the case of this garden. 

To be Continued….

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Growing Fresh Organic Food

I have been researching about growing organic food on small land and came across this valuable article detailing the assignment by Frank Edwards and Tina Thompson they embarked on. I decided to dissect it to readable chunks and post the article in parts. This information is also relevant to rural co-operatives to adopt and implement.

On a warm, sunny morning, on 28 May 2009 a small family started to dig up a patch of ground near their property. They wanted to put the ground to more productive use by starting a veggie garden. It would supply food free of charge to the community and give the people of the area something positive to talk about.


So at 8am in the suburb of  Berea, Durban, South Africa, Tina Thomson, Frank Edwards, Frank’s son Linden, little Angelo and Max began digging up a “grass desert park”. Guided by principles of permaculture and gardening in a sustainable fashion, the family began to plant an assortment of vegetable seedlings. After working for about two hours in the sun the family was “busted” by the Municipality’s Parks Department, the initiative was approved as it was seen as contributing to “community upliftment

Citizen Vegetable Gardening

Fresh Organic Food

The idea to do a spot of “guerrilla gardening”, as it’s known in Britain, came about at a Sydenham Community Forum meeting. It was proposed that something should be done in that area to get people talking about the positive rather than the negative, and Tina and Frank were inspired to start the Berea garden.

When the two were interviewed in November 2009, the garden was doing well with a variety of vegetables and fruit trees. Vegetables had been planted along the contours of land, onto swales, which are depressions that help conserve water. A greywater harvesting system was set up to take used water from an outside shower at Tina and Frank’s home and lead it onto the garden. Rainwater was also being harvested and vermicomposting practised.

  Part 2 Coming Soon!

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