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Cape pensioner converting verges in southern suburbs into lush food gardens

Tina Miller and Ghalema Easton (kneeling) tending to one of their verges. Picture by Mwangi Githahu

Tina Miller and Ghalema Easton (kneeling) tending to one of their verges. Picture by Mwangi Githahu

Published Jan 11, 2021


Cape Town - It is not what you would expect to find on a quiet leafy street situated in the heart of Cape Town’s southern suburbs, but these are unusual times.

Since the lockdown began last year, pensioner Ghalema Easton has been helping to transform the verges on a number streets in the neighbouring suburbs of Plumstead and Diep River into lush food gardens and by so doing is helping scores of people, some of whom may be struggling to feed their families during the Covid-19 pandemic.

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Easton said: “When the virus broke out in Cape Town my husband and I were out of town. Watching the news, that feeling of "food security" urgency started eating at me again. I made a video basically telling people how I feel and how important the collecting of seeds and growing your own food is, and I posted it on Facebook.”

“For a couple of months it was just my verge garden, until one day a lady pulled into my driveway, very excited to find me on the verge and asked me to please help her to convert her verge as well.

“She lives just two blocks down in a corner house, which meant two verges. This is how it started and that we have now created a number of verges in Plumstead and a huge one in Diep River.”

“The beneficiaries are you, me, the neighbour, that elderly neighbour who cannot manage to get to a shop, the homeless person who walks past. Last week we broke ground on a food garden at the Abundant Life Palliative Care centre at Victoria Hospital. This is my most exciting project so far,” said Easton.

Easton’s fist adapter was Tina Miller who said: “During lockdown I took a hard look at my verges and thought: a manicured grass verge is not fitting during these sad times. When I saw Ghalema had started a food garden, I knew this was a perfect way to go. Give back and pay it forward. No brainer.”

“The veg on verges is for picking by anyone walking by or drivers in cars. I have picked bags of spinach for ladies working in the area on the way home. The gratitude and the looks of disbelief is enough for me,” said Miller.

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Meanwhile, Mayco member for urban management Grant Twigg said the City encouraged households to start their own food production units.

Twigg said: “These gardens have an established tradition and offer great potential for improving household food security and alleviating micro-nutrient deficiencies.”

“The City’s food gardens project which starts this month in response to the Covid-19 economic recovery programme is an initiative to establish sustainable food gardens which will aid in addressing food insecurity in vulnerable areas.

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“Approximately R3 million has been budgeted for this project. It will go towards targeted beneficiaries for the use of farming kits that will include seeds, fertilizer, equipment, training and skills development amongst others,” said Twigg.

Cape Argus

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City of Cape Town