"My name is Roushanna and I love my country, South Africa. I live and work at Good Hope Garden Nursery in Cape Town with my husband, my children and my mother-in-law. What we are doing here is much more than just a family activity; it has blossomed into a real community, born from our gardens. Our little world includes a nursery, a playground for the children, educational trails between the various gardens and events dedicated to food, as well as lessons on sowing, harvest, diet and much more.
I have known about Slow Food for a long time and have always fully shared the philosophy of the association. However, I only started to cultivate my own garden four years ago: I could never have imagined these activities would turn into a way of life!
It wasn't easy. When I started this adventure, I learned from my husband (a landscape gardener who has been gardening since he could walk), but also from the errors I made along the way! Now, after years of practice and a lot of work, I tend the garden every day with my children, while my husband takes care of the more strenuous work such as the fencing around the plants. We're lucky to have the help of Lutho, who comes to take care of our sheep, goats and pigs every Monday. On Tuesdays we meet to review what needs to be done next.
At the moment we have five gardens, and in each we cultivate a variety of crops. We grow lettuce, rocket, various types of tomato, squash, zucchini, herbs (some of which are medicinal) and many edible indigenous flowers and plants. We use the sheep, goats and pigs to plow the land, and use their manure as fertilizer. We also use crop rotation.
Having these gardens and living in such close contact with the earth is very beneficial to the education of our children. The most striking example of this is my son Tyler (6), who can be rather picky when it comes to food. The project is enabling him to watch the food grow, pick it himself and watch it go onto his plate.
In addition to feeding our family, our produce is used to supply a local restaurant: The Cake Farmhouse. The rest is taken to Scarborough to be sold at the market there.
We don't just do agricultural work. We have also started running courses called "Forage, Harvest and Feed", one for children and one for adults. During the sessions, the children collect vegetables from the garden and take them into the classroom to learn more about the produce. We prepared the classroom in the nursery using recycled and reclaimed material. We also cook meals together with the produce they harvest. We often use stories to capture their attention and explain the plants to them: it's really amazing to be able to engage them on these topics.
The courses for the adults are similar, but they mainly revolve around the technical side of horticulture. For these sessions my mother-in-law helps with the organization and offers her ten-years of experience as a horticulturalist. The classes are a great way to bring people from different backgrounds together to share ideas.
I am also running another project with my mother-in-law: a cookbook of great recipes based on local plants. I am hoping to be able to demonstrate the journey from plant to plate, adding sections dedicated to the area where we live and instructions on how to grow this produce. I would also like to include a section about Slow Food and what it does, encouraging more people to do the same as us.
My next venture begins on April 1, with the inaugural meeting of the "Veggie Garden Club". Through this initiative I am trying to bring people together to share knowledge and experience, as well as recipes and seeds. So far I have received a very positive response from people.
I think that with our activities we are finally seeing a big but gradual change in South Africa. All this is very exciting and I am doing my best to spread the message. I am extremely proud to be a part of the Slow Food movement and it is very important to have the chance to share what we do with the rest of the world, especially via social media. I hope that our activities will be successful and that we'll be able to convince many people to join us!
Click here for more information about 10.000 gardens in Africa >>