Durban City provided shelter to about 2,000 homeless people during the hard lockdown and they turned the space into an urban farm.
Durban, South Africa (04 November 2020) – Sue Derwent went shopping recently and instead of heading to her local grocery store, she popped in at the lot where homeless people were kept during the hard lockdown. To stay busy, the people living there turned the space into an urban farm; growing vegetables to earn an honest living.
Sue was blown away by what she saw and shared their story on Facebook in the hopes of encouraging more people to support the urban farm.
When the government implemented lockdown in March to slow the spread of Covid-19, the City provided shelter to about 2,000 homeless people. Since then, they have benefited from several social and health programmes.
From bringing in organisations to teach basic computer skills and facilitating the reapplication of identity documents to allowing the men and women to establish a food garden that supported them through the lockdown, and now beyond.
Okay, NOW I am happy. Actually, I’m more than happy, I’m thrilled. And impressed. And humbled.
So after sharing the post recently, about the market garden that’s happening in my Durban beachfront neighbourhood behind the Elangeni Hotel, I finally got around to getting my veggie shopping done.
Now THIS, people, is buying fresh, straight out the ground, and local. And seasonal. And it’s not run by some cute, trendy NGO doing an “urban farming project to help the homeless.”
This is the homeless helping themselves.
Honestly, you can’t believe what these guys have achieved. Without any chemical sprays or any such things. Just with a vacant lot, they were housed in during hard lockdown, their bare hands, a couple of spades, and the assistance of the most delightfully unassuming homeless guy who just happens to have an agricultural diploma, and who was bored during the lockdown. He has also been training anyone there who wanted to participate. And apparently, about 16 men do…
There are seedbeds (they bought packets of seeds from the local Shopright they tell me), a nursery area, rows and rows of spinach and other veg. And solid plans for the future.
They have a fabulous idea to start a service whereby anyone in the suburbs (or anywhere) can employ them to establish a home (or office or business) veg garden. They will come and plant up a whole veg garden for you, bringing all the seedlings and expertise you will need. Don’t you think that’s wonderful? (Anybody?)
They also want to try and sell their veggie seedlings to nurseries (Again…anybody?)
There are huge beautiful beef tomatoes that will apparently be ready in 10 days to 2 weeks I am told. And I see things like onions, chillies and peppers they are experimenting with. Apparently, the heat is a bit of a challenge.
I came home with a cabbage, a huge lettuce, 2 massive bunches of spinach and a bunch of baby carrots, which they picked for me right there. And all it cost me was R45 (and a little tip). Happy days.
Please support these guys if you live anywhere in the greater Durban area. The place is bulging.
And don’t get all freaked out by the fact that you need to drive a little way through the tented accommodation, and that it may look a bit dodge for your more refined sensibilities. I was welcomed (without a fuss – people are working here). I was shown around, I put in my order. I paid my money. Nobody begged or expected anything or asked for anything – other than a little support from customers going forward.
They don’t need advice. (In fact, maybe restrain yourselves if you can) They need customers. It’s one of the sure-fire ways to ensure it is sustainable.
These guys are farmers. And they have plans!
Oh… And please share this post – obviously.
But don’t just share. Go and shop there yourself. It’s such a sweet experience. And maybe it will even get some of you out of the suburbs and into the urban Durban beachfront sunlight.
You can find out more via their Facebook page here.