Garden wilts on warning

2015-07-14 06:00
Ocean View resident Jacki Philander has been left uncertain over the future of his vegetable garden, which he runs as a community project.

Nicole mccain

Ocean View resident Jacki Philander has been left uncertain over the future of his vegetable garden, which he runs as a community project. PHOTO: Nicole mccain

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The growth of an Ocean View community project may be nipped in the bud.

This as the founder and caretaker of a vegetable garden waits to hear if he will be allowed to keep his existing security measures.

Jacki Philander started a vegetable garden in 2011 on council property in Hydra Avenue, with the aim of providing a healthy activity for local children and providing vegetables for a feeding scheme.

“Children come here during the day and I keep them busy. I teach them how to plant and keep them away from negative influences, like drugs,” he says.

“This was the first vegetable garden in Ocean View and it inspired many others to start their own.”

Philander funds the garden from his own pocket and everything grown is donated to the Ocean View Care Centre and goes towards the centre’s feeding scheme, which provides for 90 crèche children.

He says he was given the go ahead by a local councillor, but a few weeks ago was approached by another councillor and law enforcement officer, who insisted he will have to remove the fence around his garden.

Philander was also told he would have to break down a structure on the site which houses pigeons.

However, Philander insists both of these are vital for the success of his garden.

The fence prevents his vegetables from being stolen before they can be put to good use. The pigeon coop is kept to provide droppings, which Philander converts into compost. The shed also houses his tools, some of which have been stolen before.

Giving up“The land has been lying here for years. It would be different if I was building houses on it, but I’m maintaining the ground and providing a community service,” he says.

If Philander is forced to remove the fence around his garden, he will probably give up the project, he says. Just the threat is keeping him from planting further.

“I don’t want to plant until I know one way or the other. I need the fence or it will be a free-for-all,” he says. “I don’t sleep because I’m thinking about my garden. The City needs to give me a decision either way.”

Ward councillor Simon Liell-Cock says complaints were received from members of the community.

“Mr Philander was not told to remove the structures. He was told that he needed to obtain permission. The structures contravene various building regulations and by-laws,” he says. “Gardening is welcome but it must be done within the ambit of the law, both national and local, and City policy must be applied equitably to all.”

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