A community garden project is providing jobs to homeless people and training them to become better individuals.
The Somerset West Village Garden recruits homeless people from the Helderberg Street People’s Centre, provides them with work in the garden, and teaches them basic skills to hopefully find permanent jobs in the future.
The Garden was started in 2015, when Somerset West resident Jenny Finley, watched a documentary programme about food gardens in Cuba which helped to get homeless people off the streets. She was inspired to blueprint the concept in her neighbourhood.
Finley identified the piece of vacant land on the corner of Drama and New streets as a suitable location for the food garden, but unsure how to proceed, she spoke to Cheryl Ozinsky, who runs the city farm at Oranjezicht in Cape Town.
Eventually they signed a memorandum of agreement with the City in June 2015, which granted them the use of the land and free water for five years. Finley says she extremely impressed with the progress.
The garden is open Monday to Friday from 9am until 2pm and it is during this time that street people are able to work in the garden for up to four hours each day in return for four tokens donated by the Helderberg Street People’s Centre (HSPC).
They can exchange a token for a plate of food and they can also save up to 20 tokens, which can be used for example, for getting a new ID, which the HSPC helps them do, because they cannot get a job without an ID.
In return, the food garden supplies the HSPC with vegetables every week. It’s a symbiotic relationship.
Anybody who would like to help Jenny and her team, particularly with the trucking of water from local farms, can contact her on email@example.com or 082 901 2636, or Di Irish on 082 376 0377.