Growing your own vegetables is a wonderful green passion that is spreading like wildfire across our country. We are all concerned about food security in the light of climate changes and threats to our water and soil resources. Knowing how to turn a little patch of soil into a nutritious meal is a life skill, which we and our children simply need to acquire for a healthy future.
This week we introduce you to our new organic veggie teacher, Vinny Drew, who will be guiding us this year to grow our own food on a tiny patch of ground – 1m x 2m is all you need. Or you might want to use some empty containers placed on your stoep or a sunny section indoors. No, please don’t go and purchase those – be creative! Use what you have – see examples below:
Anything hollow into which you can pop some good soil/compost after making a few holes at the bottom.
Send us photographs of what you are using to provide fresh, nutritious food to your family.
Here is Vinny’s story:
My passion to live a greener life started 12 years ago in a little town called Bredasdorp, where I started recycling and making my own compost heap. I always loved nature and wanted to do more for the environment.
It was only when I moved to Somerset West in 2010 that I was introduced to Elma Pollard from the Green Times. She pointed me in the direction of Waste Wise – a company that teaches the public to act responsibly with waste through various educational projects. I did many Waste to Art workshops and environmental projects with children for 18 months onwards during school holidays.
Is it hard and expensive?
In May of 2011, Waste Wise sent me on a life changing course with an NGO called Soil for Life (SFL). I always loved the idea of a vegetable garden, but I believed, like most people, that it took skill, expertise, a big garden and that it would be costly!
During a one week, full time veggie gardening course with SFL the opposite was proven and I realised this was actually very doable. I am not going to lie to you and say it’s easy. It takes a lot of work and dedication, but it does not cost money. All you need is a small space. Creating your own food security is within reach of anyone. Growing food is utterly rewarding and more importantly this is very advantageous to our Planet!
You too can do this
SFL has made vegetable planting, feasible and practical for everyone. All your tools can be sourced from recycled goods and for a very small fee, SFL helps you get started with a “starter pack,” consisting of a simple DIY booklet, compost, mulch, organic seeds and seedlings. Then trained people like myself come along and will give you free training each week for 10 weeks.
These groups consist of between 8 and 10 people and it is good if the group being trained all live closeby. Each week the lesson is given at a different group member’s garden. This way each person gets individual attention and if need be, the group will work as a team to make everyone’s garden a success.
I got my garden started in about June and 8 weeks later I was making soup with my turnips, carrots and celery and cooking my cabbage, baby spinach and beetroot.
8 weeks to abundant veg
I now have five veggie beds and we are still eating spinach, tomatoes, lettuce, spring onions, chinese cabbage, pok choy, rocket, butternut, gem squash, patty pans (giant ones!) and chillies. My beans & peppers are almost ready to harvest.
We are starting a fresh course in Somerset West within the next week or two – so please email me if you would like to join. If you are too far away, don’t worry. I am going to share our course with you in the Green Times, so you can follow wherever you are.
By Vinny Drew
Every 2 weeks you will be able to read your next lesson here, and share your progress with us too. We would like to hear from you and assist where we can. Watch this space or comment below this story if you’d like to join and share or if you are nearby Somerset West and would like to join the course with us, call her on 0836320078.
Soil for Life are also offering regular weekend workshops which you might want to attend.