Locals go green with their farms

The Deep South, often jokingly referred to by people up the line as “behind the lentil curtain” is living up to its name, with Neighbourhood Farms flourishing at Kommetjie Primary School, the first of 11 schools, and the provincial hospital in False Bay set to be the greenest healthcare facility in the City of Cape Town.

Neighbourhood Farms will benefit the 100 000 people living in the valley and is pioneered by organic food activist and TV cook, Justin Bonello and co-founder Erik Haraldsen­.

Ocean View Primary School, Paul Greyling Primary School and Bay Primary School are part of the project.

“Market gardens are nothing new and we encourage people to grow their own produce and sell what is extra. It is impossible for us to operate 15 000 market gardens around the country, but we create an open source system that can be shared and we’ll all be eating healthily, taking better care of the planet and knowing each other better,” he adds passionately.

“The Oranjezicht Community Farm is a fantastic example of community market gardening. We have an obligation as an organisation to expand their thinking and making this the status quo in the suburbs,” says co-founder Erik Haraldsen.

The project at False Bay Hospital is a partnership between the Permaculture Research Centre and Neighbourhood Farms to use underutilised space for the broader community in the middle of Fish Hoek.

“Research shows that a connection with nature brings about healing benefits,” says Dr Wendy Waddington, representing the False Bay Hospital Facility Board.

Bonello adds: “A natural environment can be used to divert patients away from focusing on their pain or distress, while increasing pleasant feelings of freedom and serenity. This calms patients down, providing them with the right mindset to recover effectively. It’s our vision to create the greenest hospital in Cape Town which can be copied and replicated country-wide.”

The False Bay Hospital site will include the market garden, a training garden, packing shed and washing facilities. The first planting began in June and the hospital will host the training centre for the South Peninsula­.

Kommetjie Primary was the first school to embrace the concept of a Neighbourhood Farm.

“Improved nutrition, lifestyle changes for healthy living, and improved food security combined to create environments where families and communities connect, makes Kommetjie Primary School a proud participant in this remarkable project,” says George Gueorguiev, principal of Kommetjie Primary School.

He also said that the school is confident that community gardens can help reduce negative environmental impacts by promoting sustainable agriculture, reducing food transportation costs and reducing water runoff.

Each local school that will be part of the Neighbourhood Farm initiative will give local entrepreneurs an outlet for their produce such as honey, bread, bottled fruit and vegetables.

V Contact Kim Barty on 083 630 6861 or at kimbarty@icloud.com or Justin Bonello at Justin@­neighbourhoodfarms.org.za or on 082 215 0528.