Food garden project shows healthy growth

Children are rewarded with a gift and a certificate for their participation in the project.

The Greenlight food gardening project has partnered with Ottery library and Africa Jam Youth Outreach to invest in the community by showing the youth how to establish their own food gardens.

Now young and old residents are enjoying the gardens which were planted three months ago around Ottery courts and on the field.

Southern Mail met the children while they were harvesting some of their crops last week.

One aim of the project is to keep children away from the bad elements that affect the community.

.In July, harvested vegetables were given to Heavens Nest orphanage in Ottery and with the help of donations from Africa Jam, big pots of soup were made and handed out to six creches in the community on Mandela Day.

The Greenlight food gardening project was founded by Clifford Ceaser in 2015.

The project is already active in surrounding schools in the community and wishes to extend their services.

“I have started planting vegetables in the greater Ottery area and then asking the community to assist in running these food gardens where I would then transfer skills over to them while working in the garden. Coming from a background of gangs and drugs I have changed my life, so I know the layout of the ills in the community and the shortcomings so for me giving back to the community, I thought this was a perfect opportunity and stepping stone,” said Mr Ceaser. The Greenlight project also runs a soccer club for boys

The Ottery library has opened their doors to the food gardening project. Tyres are filled with the crops near the library.

Children meet at the library every Thursday from 3.30am to 5pm so they can do research, including using the internet, for their food gardens.

Senior librarian Tracey Muir-Rix said the Greenlight project is bringing the community together.

“We are hoping to change their mindsets of division and instil that unity,” she said.

Youth facilitator Christo Williams of Africa Jam Youth Outreach, said about the food gardens: “Looking at the youth of Ottery, this is where youth come together and learn about sustainable livelihood, to sustain themselves and learn a skill that they can take with them throughout the years, it is valuable.”

The children have also learnt about saving water and make use of grey water for their crops. They collect the grey water at home in two-litre bottles and also ask their friends to bring grey water for the garden.

The junior group have completed their 12-week Greenlight gardening programme and many pupils have started their own gardens at home.