food sustainability

The Food Garden Network

The Food Garden Network initiative has evolved from an Imagine Durban Demonstration Project called The Mila Project, which works closely with Cato Crest Primary School and Glenridge Pre-Primary School in developing food gardens; as well as the numerous permaculture training workshops offered by Durban Botanic Gardens to private individuals, schools and organisations in and around KwaZulu-Natal.

Durban Botanic Gardens together with Bev Ainslie are encouraging food garden networks in the City.  Gardens and gardeners do not exist alone.  Our vision is a network of accessible food garden centres across the City, as well as across Southern Africa.  Imagine being able to walk to your neighbourhood food garden, meet the grower, harvest your own vegetables and share ideas about growing. This is garden-city future that we are passionate about turning into a reality.

There is a host of local city permaculture food garden projects already emerging.  To be a successful gardener one needs the support of others, to share ideas and resources.  The challenge now is to develop the network and connect gardens and gardeners.

Purpose and benefits

The main purpose of the network is to promote and develop food gardening, using permaculture principles by:

  • Developing ongoing relationships between teachers, learners, private individuals and organisations in a particular area or zone.
  • Sharing of resources, skills and knowledge.
  • Providing ongoing training and support.

The benefits of the network are to promote:

  • Food security.
  • Healthy eating habits.
  • Sustainable environmental practices.
  • Promotes activity learning, linked to the curriculum (in the case of schools).

Members of the Food Garden Network would need to commit to food gardening based on the ethics of permaculture – Care for the Earth, Care for People and Fare Share, as well as the 12 principles of permaculture.

Network members

There are over 100 members in the eThekwini area signed up has interested member so far.  An initial group of seven, within a 15 km radius of each other, are:

  • Cato Crest Primary School
  • Glenridge Pre-Primary School
  • Manor Gardens Primary School
  • Tree Tops School
  • The Glenwood Garden Group at the Durban Children’s Home
  • Eden School
  • Gordon Road Girls’ School

How the network will work…

The idea would be to start a network in one area (like Glenwood), and then grow to other networks in the City, then nationally and then throughout Southern Africa.   An initial network, The Glenwood Food Gardening Network, can be the link between individuals, schools and organisations in the area, but does not necessary exclude members from other areas.   The network would meet monthly to hold capacity-building workshops.  These workshops would be co-ordinated and facilitated by Bev Ainslie, Durban Botanic Gardens and the Food Garden Network members themselves (as to promote long-term sustainability of the network).  The workshops would be a practical and hands-on and will focus on:

  • Food gardening based on permaculture principles.
  • Sharing lessons learnt.
  • Assisting the host network member with their garden.
  • Tackling challenges facing gardeners.
  • Sharing resources and ideas.

Each garden group (i.e. individual / school / organisation) would have the chance to host a workshop, invite other gardening groups to attend.  Some workshops will also be hosted at Durban Botanic Gardens.

Grow through sharing

For further information, contact Bev Ainslie (, cell 0724252754) or Martin Clement (, cell 0722042801).

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