There’s an old saying: to plant a garden is to believe in tomorrow.
Now an Ottery man is taking it one step further by planting a garden to show his belief in the youth of tomorrow.
Clifford Ceasar had an idea to start a gardening project that would feed and help the people of his community.
Last year his vision became a reality when he started a gardening project at the old Lotus River Primary School in Hector Avenue in Ottery. He used the produce to feed elderly Ottery residents but he also wanted to do more.
It was then that Mr Ceasar came up with the idea to start planting vegetables in the communal areas between and around the so-called marble flats in Ottery. He called the initiative, the Greenlight organic gardening project.
“Coming from a drug and gang background I wanted to give back to my community. I want them to know that there is more to the flats than drugs, gangs and guns. I wanted to create spaces where everyone from all the flats can come together and create something beautiful. I want to help the unemployed, give them a space to do positive things and unite a divided community through a sustainable programme,” said Mr Ceasar.
Adiel Gaffer, 26, got involved with the project in the beginning of the year and is very proud of it.
“I left school in Grade 10 and I worked a bit for the City of Cape Town as well as in construction and I am happy to be part of this project. It keeps me busy and away from the bad elements. We also feed the community and that’s one of the best parts,” said Adiel.
Suzette Little, the City’s Mayco member for social development and early childhood development, said they support Mr Ceasar’s project.
“Food gardens are the cornerstone of the poverty alleviation programme run by our directorate.
“They are crucial to ensuring food security and also have the potential to become income-generating opportunities,” said Ms Little.
She said the poverty alleviation programme provides support to community gardens in the form of training, equipment and seedlings.
The directorate also donated seedlings, compost, mulch and other items to the Greenlight project.
“The gardens are doing very well. It has become their livelihood and so sustainable that it has actually attracted the attention of other residents in the area as well as a local church who are all interested in starting food gardens,” said Ms Little.
Benedicta van Minnen, the City’s Mayco member for human settlements, said although the land is not leased to Mr Ceasar, they welcomed his initiative.
“The City welcomes community initiatives which promote sustainable living and we encourage residents to take responsibility for the environment in which they live,” she said.
She added that the directorate is investigating to see how best to incorporate such initiatives into the living environment of the City’s rental units.