For the past few years I have driven past the old Oranjezicht Bowling Green on many occasions. The bowling club, which operated for 50 years, closed down leaving this prime piece of city land abandoned in its wake. Wasted green space in a city fast running out of the precious green stuff.
Fortunately local residents, led by Sheryl Ozinsky, saw a future for the plot. They proposed an inner city farm to local city officials, jumped through the necessary bureaucratic hoops and within a month had received permission.
With the help of some generous donations (about R500 000 at last count) led by the Madam Zingara Group donating R100 000; and a group of volunteers, the once derelict land has now being transformed into an oasis of fast greening soil – an inner city organic farm.
This one plot of land won’t change the world, however it shows what can be achieved with a little bit of land, a lot of initiative and people willing to give up their time, energy and in some cases money, for the greater good. This does sound a bit grandiose to be honest but the idea is not to solve world hunger but to use local land more productively and make organically grown veg available to residents without the carbon footprint attached.
It sets an example of what can be achieved with limited space; be it a small balcony or a patch of garden, you can grow your own veg without too much hassle or expense. I have now started noticing many other disused pieces of land in the City Bowl and Atlantic Seaboard region and would love the veggie growers to get hold of them before the developers do. We do not need more suffocating concrete monstrosities.
My five year old and I popped in to take a closer look. The youngster was keen and quickly entered into the spirit of things, planting protective hedges as well as peas and spinach while chatting up some local talent at the same time. He loved it and spent a healthy and productive couple of hours getting his hands dirty, learning about growing food and generally having a good time. We have returned and he again pitched in, as did mom and dad this time. I have seen many kids there and I think it’s a great way of introducing them to alternative means of obtaining healthy food other than procuring them at the local supermarket. It’s also fun and educational.
The land was originally a farm with a weekly market where they used to ring a bell to call residents to buy. The bell still remains and I look forward to it ringing again when the produce is ready for sale. This is a great way of getting the community involved in a collective project, making unused land productive and educating kids and adults alike.
Barry Washkansky – www.livecapetown.co.za