“Being a grandfather taught me different values,” says retired soldier Steven Barnard, who recently launched the Garden of Life in Strandfontein, Cape Town. “I realised that the future of the country is contingent on my grandchildren, and if I don’t make a difference, it means that my grandchildren will not have a future.
Just 13 years ago, Barnard made good on his promise to alleviate hunger and promote self-sufficiency through the Garden of Life project. “It’s all about coming up with innovative ways to put your farm to use. It includes some of the most profitable crops for small farms, which can turn into great income sources if you want to make money from your farm,” he says.
Veterans unite against hunger
Early in March, the Garden of Life devised a strategy to teach military veterans in Strandfontein how to grow their own seedlings and make their own.
Barnard believes they will be able to return to their communities and implement these skills. “So, if we take military veterans, we can train them, teach them the skills, and then they can go back into their communities and train other people.”
Among the topics covered in the veteran workshop included how to grow seedlings, how to make compost, how to prepare your soil, how to create your grow square, and how to water and maintain your plants.
Value in growing their own
Fannie Kewana (69) from Strandfontein says she was excited to share her skills with the youth in the area.
“When we look back at how people in rural areas used to prioritise farming their food, we can see that they ate fresh food from the garden, as opposed to where we now buy almost everything,” she says.
Kewana is a military veteran. “The workshop was fruitful and very productive,” she tells Health For Mzansi, “Especially because we are going to take the skills and implement them to the children in our communities.”
Here’s how to make your own compost
Composting is worth it for those who want to create their own nutrient-rich soil amendments for a garden, says Barnard. Turning your kitchen waste is an excellent way to save money and prevent food waste.
Barnard shares these tips for how to make your own compost:
First things first: Make a new structure or dig a hole in the ground.
Second: Fill your compost bin with grass, cuttings and leaves. Manure, ash, green kitchen waste, earthworms, shredded paper and cardboard, and manure are all examples of waste.
Quick tips for composting:
- Your compost hole or container must be in a shady area.
- Remember to incorporate both green and brown materials into your compost. Maintain the compost’s moisture level.
- It is critical to leave the underside of the container open so that worms can enter and help the material decompose faster.
- Cover your compost with soil, a lid, or even plastic wrap. It will aid in the retention of heat and moisture.
How to grow seedlings in seven steps
You will need:
Follow these steps:
Step 1: One at a time fill the egg cartons with soil compost mix, approx. 2 – 3cm deep.
Step 2: Wet the soil mix with water.
Step 3: Plant the seeds (plant them to a depth almost equal to their own size) in each cup of the carton or 2cm apart on the holder.
Step 4 Cover the container with shredded newspaper or plastic and leave it in sunlight.
Step 5. Remember to label your egg cartons with the type of seeds that you have planted.
Step 6: In 3 days, uncover the trays to allow the seedlings to start growing.
Step 7: Once your seedlings have grown to a height of 2 – 3 cm, gently remove each individual plant using a spoon or lifting tool. Plant them in your garden.
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