Green-fingered gardeners get gold at awards

Christine Bell and judge Rhoda Kadalie.

Three Steenberg gardeners received recognition for their green fingers at the Soil for Life annual Home Food Gardening Awards.

Connie and Gerard Smart, from Sharedon Park, were runners-up for the Best Home Gardener Award; Christine Bell from Steenberg was runners-up for the Best Container Gardener; and Shaun Boch, also from Steenberg, won a Green Hero Award for the second year in a row.

Environmental non-profit organisation Soil for Life is on a mission to change the world one garden at a time. Their Home Food Gardening Programme aims to tackle food insecurity, lifestyle diseases and unemployment, giving people the knowledge, tools and support to grow their own food, even in the most challenging environments.

Soil for Life director and founder, Pat Featherstone says since 2002 the organisation has trained thousands of people how to create home food gardens, regardless of limited space, experience and money.

“Everyone has the potential to grow nutritious food, whatever resources they have available,” said Ms Featherstone.

“We teach people from all walks of life – from leafy suburbs to sandy townships – how to grow healthy, organic food using earth-friendly, low-cost methods. The benefits are numerous – physically, mentally and spiritually – for the gardener, their families, their communities and our planet,” said Ms Featherstone.

Between 2011 and 2015, Soil for Life trained 1 853 gardeners in 16 low-income areas including Bishop Lavis, Delft, Gugulethu, Khayelitsha, Mitchell’s Plain, Philippi and Steenberg.

The organisation’s annual Home Food Gardening Awards recognise the commitment, hard work and creativity of their graduates.

Ms Smart grows beans, mint, rocket, kale, spinach, broccoli and fennel in her garden. To deal with the water restriction that have been implemented in Cape Town, Mr Smart rigged up a home-made water tank, with gutters emptying into a large bin. The couple grow enough veggies for themselves and donate all the excess to St Anne’s Catholic Church’s soup kitchen.

The next intake for the Home Food Gardening Programme will be in February. No experience is needed. The course costs R15 a person, which includes 12 weeks of training, ongoing support and a vegetable garden starter kit including seeds, compost, mulch and seedlings.

It costs about R2 735 to provide the first year of training and support to a new community gardener. To subsidise the programmes, Soil for Life generates income through a nursery, shop, cafe and training courses, but is still heavily reliant on donations to run their community programmes.

For more information about making a donation or to register, contact Soil for Life on 021 794 4982 or