Born from a need to sustain Communicare tenants and their surrounding neighbours, Vulamathuba Empumelelo started food gardens at various Communicare complexes and their Community Learning Centre in Brooklyn. These gardens address the food challenges people face during difficult financial times.

Nature knows best

It is important for the Vulamathuba team that the produce from the garden provides the nutrients required for a healthy life and avoids harmful chemicals. This means the vegetables had to be organic (close to nature or from nature and grown without artificial pesticides or fertilizers). Our premise was, therefore, that nature knows best.

Attendees were educated in creating compost from food and garden waste to enrich the soil and feed the produce. The idea is that the participants would take all the vegetable skins, leftover rice, and other items that would decompose in their garbage bins and add them to the compost bins in the garden. This increases nutrients in the garden and allows us to limit the waste we send to landfills, recycle our food and get the maximum use out of it. Using this model of making compost to feed the vegetables in the Vulamathuba gardens has proven to be very successful.

Use and re-use

As a country, we celebrate big celebrations such as Ramadan, Hanuka and Christmas with food. Often, large amounts of food waste go to landfills that could otherwise have been used to feed the plants that provide our bodies. With the festive season upon us, let’s remember to add our easily decomposable food to the garden.

Tips and Tricks
• All vegetable skins can be used in compost.
• If you have your garden, remember that the seeds might germinate in your compost and start growing.
• Things like bones and avocado seeds might take longer to decompose, so chop them into smaller pieces to speed up decomposition.
• Decomposing food will start to smell and cause pests. It’s best to cover it up.
• “Green stuff”, like potato skins and other food leftovers, adds nitrogen to the compost, and “brown stuff”, like dried leaves and grass, etc., adds carbon to the waste.
• Adding garden waste to the compost helps to cover up the smell and add nutrients to the compost.
• Insects in your compost are a good sign but unsuitable for your plants.
• Earthworms help your soil to be nutrient rich.

Get into gardening

Tenants and community members are encouraged to join one of our garden clubs – research has found that gardening, which consists of a combination of physical activity, social interaction, and exposure to sunlight (lowers blood pressure and exposes us to Vitamin D), has many mental and physical health benefits.

If you would like to bring your food waste to one of the Vulamathuba gardens or join our garden club where you will get training, etc., please get in touch with Ashleigh or Noluvo at 021 421 6008.