Rooftop garden reaps green rewards

Busisiwe Dalinggozi, Luluama Sihlabeni and Nomfundo Yaso at the Ekhaya Ekasi Rooftop Graden.

If you are short of land, but you have tools and the passion for gardening, worry not. Your roof could well be turned into a garden. All you need are seeds, fertilisers, and pots or veggie boxes, and maybe an inspiration like the members of Ekhaya Ekasi Rooftop Garden in Makhaza.

A while ago, the large rooftop where the project is based was just an ordinary roof, but now it is a flourishing urban food garden. Members of Ekhaya Ekasi, who began the project in 2013, are now reaping the rewards of their beautiful garden.

It now feeds the community for free and has many empowerment projects such as sewing, T-shirt printing and many others.

Director of the project, Lulama Sihlabeni, said the garden would not be difficult to replicate.

She said it was restored in the principles of organic cultivation, so no genetically modified foods were grown.

Ms Sihlabeni appealed to the community to adopt the concept and run with it in their own homes. She said the garden was the way to go in a country where land was in high demand. Members would be happy to give classes to interested individuals.

“People can come and learn with us. It is a very easy concept. All one needs is a love for gardening, and veggie boxes.

Another advantage is that you don’t have to go down on your knees but can do it while standing up.”

She said the concept came from one of their sponsors, James Fernie, the director of Uthando South Africa, who wanted to prove that gardening was possible anywhere if there was passion.

“All he (Mr Fernie) did was to bring us the veggie boxes and show us how this was done. We always had our crate garden, but the crates were too small. The veggie boxes are much bigger and better. Now we are able to teach people to plant on any space,” she said.

Nomfundo Yaso, youth education co-ordinator, said the project proved beyond a doubt that food could be produced in any space. She urged people to use of any available spaces.

“Our aim is to introduce this to people. It is to prove that there is always a space to plant. Today we have all the veggies on top of the roof. Today we are able to feed the people of our community. This is the way to go,” she said.

Busisiwe Dalingozi said, as part of a youth empowerment programme, they had also developed the garden and she called on the public to adopt the idea of planting their own nutritious veg.

“You do not need a big (plot of) land to plant vegetables. We now do not buy chillies, beetroot, spinach, green pepper, broccoli and herbs. We are proud to have established this,” she said.