Reaping the fruits of his labour

Phindile Tyalisi says people should give him tyres instead of burning them.

An Mfuleni man has turned a dump into a vegetable garden.

When Phindile Tyalisi, of the Shukushukuma informal settlement, saw that a growing pile of rubbish and rubble on an open piece of ground was attracting vermin and causing a stench, he decided to do something about it.

The father of four cleared the site just before lockdown started in March but he also had to convince those using it as a dump that they would be better served by a garden full of organic veg.

“I am a Rasta, and Rastas believe in organic foods and plants,” says Mr Tyalisi.

“We do not eat meat, so we rely more on the soil. We have to work the soil to have food. When the opportunity presented itself to me, I had to use it.

This place was stinking, people were throwing dead animals here. I had to work very hard. But I am not complaining.”

Today he takes pride in his garden but says he is not done yet. He hopes to find another piece of land that he can use to teach children, especially pre-schoolers, how to farm.

“I want to create a Mfuleni that loves the soil, that is willing to work the soil and benefit from it. I would not preach that people should not eat meat, but I would encourage them to stay away from it for a week and eat vegetables and see the difference.

But you can imagine if we can all work the soil. We will not only save money but lives as well. People will be healthy and fresh.”

The flowers he has added to the garden lend it a splash of colour that attracts passers-by.

“I have people coming to ask how do I do this and I give them tips.”

His advice to the community is to stop burning tyres because they can be very useful in a garden and he uses them to plant seedlings.

“I get disturbed when I see people burning roads with tyres. Those are my gardens,” he says.