Growing a greener future

2016-09-27 06:00
Lawrence Matjie (55), tends to the vegetable garden he has established at Ned Doman High School with some of the more than 20 000F water he has saved from the winter rainfall season.  PHOTOS: Earl Haupt

Lawrence Matjie (55), tends to the vegetable garden he has established at Ned Doman High School with some of the more than 20 000F water he has saved from the winter rainfall season. PHOTOS: Earl Haupt

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“We might value water more if we had to carry it in jars from the edge of town, bearing on our shoulders all the water our households needed each day.”

This is the sentiment of Lawrence Matjie, who has saved in excess of 20 000F of water collected from the sparse rain which has fallen in Cape Town during winter.

Matjie has been the gardener at Ned Doman High School for almost two years and took the initiative to start saving water for their grounds more effectively after noticing two unused water tanks on the school grounds earlier this year. He saved so much water that both tanks started overflowing and he had to make another plan.

“I had to use my own common sense to do this, because there was no more space to save the water anymore. Those tanks were full and overflowing, so I thought that the only other option I had was to get some plastic which I put into boxes,” Matjie explains.

He says he insulated boxes used for the school’s vegetables with plastic so they could hold the excess water.

“Even up to now, those tanks are not enough. We still need two more of those tanks if possible. I was battling here in the beginning because there were no taps to empty the tanks with. I had to make my own plans and find something to block the overflow holes. After a while, someone came through and give me a tap for the one tank.”

Matjie adds that the water saved would be enough to water the school’s garden and vegetable garden throughout the summer.

At the same time the vegetables, which are growing at a rapid rate, would also need a renewed purpose, much like the water which was used to help them grow, Matjie says.

“I have to try and make means and ways to make people aware that we are supposed to use them. One of the other ways of saving water is by making use of the vegetables. If you leave vegetables to perish on their own like that, what is the sense of even growing it, watering it and looking after them?”

He has not yet found organisations to make better use of the vegetables, but he also reiterates that this was only possible through the high school and that the final decisions are left to them.

“I am only here to do my work as a gardener to grow the vegetables. The rest needs to be done by them.”

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