The City of Cape Town’s Community Gardens Project is now in its 10th year and has grown to include more than 100 green spaces around the city. The initiative encourages volunteers within those communities to take back their open spaces.
‘The City’s Recreation and Parks Department started the Community Gardens Project a decade ago with the aim of creating quality public open spaces, improving the use of these spaces, and promoting horticulture, landscaping and gardening as a recreational hobby and professional activity. Volunteers have taken this initiative on with both hands and we have just added another eight community gardens to the growing list,’ said the City of Cape Town’s Mayoral Committee Member for Safety and Security; and Social Services, Alderman JP Smith.
The City’s role is to facilitate the development of the gardens; to ensure that the vegetation that is planted in the public open spaces is suitable for use, meets the departmental objectives and is sustainable. This is achieved by providing in situ training where required.
‘Skills development is a big part of the programme and as a result the City has embarked on various training interventions aimed at equipping the volunteers. They’ve received training in tree care and indigenous plant propagation.
‘The Community Gardens Project gives communities the opportunity to take back public spaces for the purpose of fun and beauty, instead of these spaces being used for other anti-social behaviour,’ said Alderman Smith.
Recreation and Parks assists with the design and preparation of the site and provides the basic tools and plants required. Community members receive training and acknowledgement for their contributions. A cooperative agreement is signed between the department and a community representative in order to establish a sustainable working relationship.
The department also supports the community gardeners with basic setup requirements such as seeds and compost, and provides ongoing advice.
The project encourages as many members of the community to participate as possible and no garden is allowed to be fenced off for preferential use or access.
‘The Community Gardens project allows residents to be a part of what happens in their communities and also creates the possibility of economic opportunities with the sale of seeds, cut flowers and seedlings. Positive open spaces also encourage greater use by the community which in turn can be a deterrent to the abuse of our spaces. The project has really taken off and the level of enthusiasm and creativity exhibited by communities is heartening. The success of it shows the power of allowing residents the freedom to take ownership of their public space,’ said Alderman Smith.
‘While some of our gardens have suffered slightly with the water crisis, many have flourished as residents embraced the new normal and used grey water to keep their gardens going. These avid gardeners made sure not a drop of water was wasted and maintained their oasis,’ said Alderman Smith.
Community gardens from around the City will be honoured later this year at an awards ceremony to shine the spotlight on the volunteers who tend the gardens.
Last year the City’s Organisational Development and Transformation Plan (ODTP) was adopted by Council to improve the way the administration works.
‘A key commitment of the ODTP is excellence in service delivery and empowering communities to help themselves. We are fulfilling that mandate by not only providing the space and start-up materials for community gardens, but we also provide continued support and advice,’ said Alderman Smith.
The eight new community gardens are Carrick Park in Kuils River, Eighth Avenue and Parkway Close in Rondebosch, Veronica Park in Strand, Norman Park in Wetton, South Close Park in Grassy Park, Upper Liesbeeck River Garden in Bishops Court, Erica community garden in Ottery and the Sonkring community garden in Brackenfell.
Source: City of Cape Town