Cyril Nhliziyo, a horticulturalist in the eThekwini Municipality Parks Department, approached the Umthombo Children’s Centre last year with the idea of starting a food garden in the empty lot just across the street from their drop-in resource centre in Durban’s inner city. Inspired by the food garden at City Hall and other food garden projects instituted by Municipal offices, Nhliziyo saw an opportunity for his department to get involved. Ashika Pramlall, the Programs Director at Umthombo, was quick to get on board with the food garden idea. Umthombo encounters an average of 70 drop-in cases per day, with several children spending more than one night at the Centre. Pramlall saw the food garden as a potential outlet activity for the children and an opportunity to develop skills.
The District 10 food garden project was launched in October 2010 as a joint initiative between the Parks Department and the Umthombo Centre. Boy-Boy, a youth worker at the Centre, was identified to help coordinate the project and ensure that the garden is properly maintained. Boy-Boy works in the garden on weekends and has received permaculture training. Boy-Boy now organizes informal training sessions for other children and youth at Umthombo. Currently, there are five children and youth who work in the garden on a semi-permanent basis. The lot where the food garden now rests used to be a desolate open space where locals would dump their household refuse. The space is now a thriving food garden that produces vegetables which are contributing to the Centre’s nutritional programme. The garden had a good harvest this year and everyone working on the project is optimistic about future harvests.
Umthombo took over management of the garden on the 1st of April, 2011. Nhliziyo explained that this was the plan when the project was started. “We will continue to provide technical support in the form of disease and pest control,” commented Nhliziyo, “but the garden will now be with Umthombo.” He is moving on to another food garden project in association with a street children organization called ICARE. Nhliziyo plans on initiating more projects of this nature in the future, partnering with children and youth organizations with the goal of giving young people the opportunity to learn new skills and engage in a healthy living activity. Cyril Nhliziyo and Boy-Boy are pictured in the image above working in the garden.
source: Imagine Durban