The Somerset West Village Garden is an amazing urban vegetable farm in downtown Somerset West. Many people are not aware of it, how it came about or what it strives to achieve.
What used to be a derelict park has been transformed over the past 3 years into a blooming vegetable garden by the hard work of a handful of individuals.
This community vegetable garden now employs an average of 15 unemployed men and women every weekday. These workers earn a token for every hour worked, which may be swapped for food, clothing, toiletries, assistance with getting a new ID and more recently shopping vouchers. The SWVG works in conjunction with the Helderberg Street Peoples Centre – they provide the meals, for example a hot stew and bread costs one token.
The workers have learnt how to sow seed and care for them, how to plant the seedlings out into the beds and water them. Some of the guys are good with building and have constructed the raised beds, woven vine boxes and helped with some of the maintenance work. Others prefer working with the compost and have learnt how to layer the heaps, keep them warm to create the wonderful rich compost. Whichever area they work, they all work towards the end result….growing healthy, organic vegetables.
Somerset West Village Garden Market on Tuesdays
These vegetables are harvested on Tuesdays. A team of volunteers starts picking at 8am and the veg are sold from 9am onwards.
Whatever is ripe, in season and ready for harvest is sold at very reasonable prices. There are no plastic trays or cling wrap, the public get to pick and choose what and how much they want from the table. Being as eco friendly as possible, they encourage the community to bring their own baskets/bags and empty glass jars for honey.
There is a friendly buzz at market day with many familiar and new faces each week. Amazingly over the past two and a half years over 10200 bunches of spinach have been sold!
The SWVG is now supplying a couple of local restaurants with fresh, organic veggies, it also supplies HSPC and Somerset West Night Shelter with crates of veggies for their kitchens and the workers take some on a regular basis.
There is a notable difference in many of the workers, often when they first arrive, they are timid, thin, maybe ill and down. But after working at SWVG for a while, they gain more self-respect, confidence and weight and enjoy having a place to be and something constructive to do.
- SWVG really does offer the homeless and unemployed a hand up instead of a hand out to help restore their dignity
- SWVG is always looking for volunteers to get involved with harvest and assist with daily chores. They need jars of peanut butter, which the workers “buy” twice a week, good shoes, overalls, jackets and especially jobs that can help the workers move upwards and onwards in their lives.
WHERE: Somerset West Village Garden 41 New St, Lionviham, Cape Town, 7130
INFO: E firstname.lastname@example.org
See also Cape Town Green Map