Growing food gardens
A Plettenberg Bay woman is slowly but surely realising her dream of naturally growing food in public spaces.
“My vision is to have fruit and vegetable gardens in public spaces to feed our people. I want these to be natural gardens where no watering and very little maintenance is required,” says Elaine Gerber, who recently started a small vegetable patch in the town centre – and a Facebook page, to share her dream.
Gerber said it all started in 2013 when she took over a family garden service business. When she started running Eden Garden Services, she realised that everyone in the industry was roughly using the same methods. “People are using pesticides and a lot of water to maintain their gardens. I saw a need to do it differently.”
Her first steps were small. She started using a broom instead of a blower to get rid of unwanted debris.
“I also wondered about planting food, without using water. Way back in history, surely people lived from the land without irrigation systems?”
She tested the theory and sowed some seeds on their property in Harkerville. “This was in the middle of the drought, but everything started to grow. I just used my own compost I made from the by-products of gardening services, all natural.”
Gerber then collected cuttings and decided to plant them on a patch of land in town near the Beacon Island KwikSpar.
“People laughed at me and said it would never work, but it did. Then people started laughing again saying that people would just help themselves to the harvests. But this is exactly what I want. I want us to start a movement to try and feed our town.”
She adds that she also believes people will take care of the garden. “People won’t destroy something that provides them with something valuable like food.”
Gerber says she hopes residents would utilise the garden and in return put some work into it. “I don’t want people to water the garden as the point is to do it without watering. I just want people to replace what they take by ploughing back into the project, for example planting a few seeds.”
She says she started the project with a few hardy plants like spinach, onions, lettuce, rocket and rosemary. “I would also like to plant some apple trees next.”
Gerber has a few other spots around town in mind for future planting and would like schools to come on board and further her dream. “My ultimate dream is to establish a food forest.”
The team from Eden Garden Services Ronard, King and Kenny, have bee tirelessly working tending to the public garden owner Elaine Gerber has started. This is her first step in creating edible gardens to provide food for those who need it.