Every Home Must Have a Garden

“Every home must have a garden” declares Ntombenhle Mtambo passionately.

Not content with turning her tiny back yard into a food forest, Ntombenhle has been pestering the uMngeni Municipality for the past 8 years to allow her to use a vacant plot, which Mpophomeni residents have been using as a dumping site, for a food garden.

r dumpsite with n3tc

“This is so important,” she says, “Everyone should have the ability to afford a healthy lifestyle. In this garden we will share skills and teach people to recycle all the things they think are waste.”

r barrowfull of plastic waste

The Mpophomeni Conservation Group has set about creating this community garden with great gusto. Watch this short video of the original dream: https://vimeo.com/92513329

Volunteers began a few months ago, clearing the rubbish from the site – eish, so much buried plastic and chunks of concrete!

r Mpop clearing rubbish JPG

Neighbour, Bonokwakhe Madlala brought them all gloves when he noticed they were working with bare hands.

glove man

Then Hilton and Howick Rotary, who share Ntombenhle’s vision, erected a fence to keep the goats and chickens out.

late afternoon light 140

A fence is absolutely essential if you want to grow food in a township where livestock roams freely.

late afternoon light 151

Thandi Sheleme who runs the crèche next door to the garden is terribly excited and keen to start a garden on her side of the new fence too.

mpop garden creche

Paul Duncan of Dovehouse helped draw up a plan based on permaculture principles. Zane Mnchunu of MIDI, who are delighted to be associated with the MCG garden commented Paul’s a magician, I’m convinced! What a man. Well done guys. Garden is looking good.

Paul designing mpop garden 327

Quick as a flash, swales were dug to harvest the rain and beds were made.

r mpop garden october digging swale

Ntombenhle and Tutu have been planting seeds at Qhamukile School nearby, so were able to collect lots of seedlings for the new garden from there – including onions, spinach and comfrey.

r mpop garden october onions

Barend Booysen brought bags of manure and mulch and some Vepris lanceolata trees.  “I am blown away by what is happening here. I can see a big future for this project.” he said, “I will be drop by with more whenever I am in the area.”

r mpop garden october barend

Alex March of Nkosi Nursery delivered indigenous trees and shrubs for windbreaks, shade, medicine and wildlife including Ouhout, Celtis, Buddleja, lots of aloes, Artemesia, Rhus lanceolata, Freylinia.  He donated a whole bunch too.

r trees

Fortunately, the rain arrived soon after, so digging holes was not too much of a challenge and planting commenced with gusto.

r nathi ntombenhle mpop garden 078

The small stream that runs through the site is ideal for watering everything.  The water is clean and fresh. Plans are afoot to plant arums and incema in the waterlogged areas.

r mpop garden october collecting water

Margie Pretorius visited the fledgling garden, was terribly impressed and sponsored a whole lot of fruit trees, herbs, seeds and seedlings.

late afternoon light 141

Ntombenhle popped into Hopewells to stock up – Peppers, Brinjals, Beetroot and Kale seedlings and seeds of nasturtium, coriander, courgette, beans, sunflowers, carrots, parsley and fennel.

r ntombenhle hopewells

Every day as the volunteers clear and dig, people stop by to chat about the project. Ntombenhle says “A guy from the municipality stopped by too. He was speechless. They made us wait so long for permission to create this garden. Now they can see for themselves what we can do.”

r mpop garden october 038 planting spinach

Mrs Mncube who owns the Tuck Shop across the road brings over trays of tea and sandwiches to keep them going.

tea and sandwiches mpop garden 308

N3TC have sponsored some inspiring learning for the group – to Enaleni Agro-Ecological Farm to learn to bake bread and make fruit cordials, and to the Khula Shanti Food Garden to discover pea pyramids, chicken tractors and the importance of rocks in the garden.

r rock in mpop garden 109

Ntombenhle concludes “This piece of land is going to bring lots of fun, unity in the community, new skills and challenges. I can see a bright future if the community roll up their sleeves and learn to make money out of waste and gardening.”

r mpop garden october 023 planting row

Come and see for yourself what is happening on the corner of Mhlongo and Stadium Roads in Mpophomeni. Or like them on facebook.com/MpopConserve

Clearing out your garage this holiday?  Ntombenhle will be very grateful for used roofing and poles to create a shelter, pieces of shade cloth, wire, trellis, watering cans, garden tools. They do need as much mulch (hay) and manure as they can get their hands on – so if you are clearing out the stables too…..  She is quite determined not to spend any money on these items and rather make use of/recycle things other people no longer need.  Contact her on 071 916 2550.

r seeds

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4 thoughts on “Every Home Must Have a Garden

  1. cg58

    Congratulations to everyone who is working so hard to grow food in Mpophomeni!!! You are all an inspiration 🙂 I hope to stop by and see for myself what you have done! A dream becoming reality! Christeen

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  2. Karen Zunckel

    This is fantastic Ntombenhle and team. Well done on your perseverance and hard work. I can’t wait to come and visit your garden and contribute my two cents worth of plants…

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  3. freedomsearcher

    Wonderful work, hope we can work with this remarkable group into 2015. African Conservation Trust will definitely be contacting them!!
    Well done, now to spread the virus of gardening for food!!!

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  4. carol segal

    Yay yay yay – How wonderful the gardens are already taking shape. Ntombenhle, your enthusiasm is contagious. I shall be sure to remember you next time we are harvesting seedlings from the Khula Shanti gardens. Also, remember to get some sunflowers in – they are such HAPPY plants and grow well alongside mielies.
    Very proud of you.
    well done.
    Carol

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