Gro­wing food gar­dens

Knysna-Plett Herald - - Green Matters - Yo­lan­dé S­tan­der * Anyo­ne who is in­te­rested in Ger­ber’s i­ni­ti­a­ti­ve can vi­sit her Fa­ce­book pa­ge: E­di­ble Gar­dens P­lett.

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.”

P­ho­to: Sup­p­lied

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.

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