Community reclaims park

2019-10-22 06:00

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The newly established Friends of the Company’s Garden in the Cape Town central business district (CBD) is hoping to revive and restore the renowned park to its former glory.

The park, which is a national heritage site, was established in the 1650s by the first European settlers to grow fresh produce for ships passing through. It later became one of Cape Town’s major attractions, boasting an array of plants and trees. It also has a fish pond and an aviary, making it a popular destination among locals and tourists.

However, sporadic crime incidents have discouraged people from visiting the park. The new community group hopes to help attract visitors to the park again.

It will be working with the park’s steering committee, which has been largely responsible for the park’s upkeep.

Group founder and secretary Alan Cameron says after some encouragement by the steering committee, the Cape Town Heritage Trust organised a group of about 30 area stakeholders to meet earlier this year.

“It was agreed that crowd-sourcing and constructive involvement in the park was a good idea, and it was decided to start the Friends of the Company’s Garden,” explains Cameron.

The group consists of nine members: Cameron, Dylan Tommy (chair), Glyn Fogell (treasurer), Laura Robinson, Gaby Palmer, Theodore Cox, Andrea Couvert, Ivan Flint, Gavin Morris and Belinda Veermeer.

Cameron says the group is looking forward to contributing to the on-going work to make the park a safer, friendlier and more vibrant space. He says the aim is for the Company’s Garden to be the place everyone goes to and for it to be regarded as an “accessible backyard” for all Capetonians.

“Frequent the garden, walk around and enjoy it for the wonderful green space it is,” he says.

Cameron says the public can become a member. It costs R100 per person or R200 for organisations. He says money raised will be used to fund various projects.

Dave Bryant, the councillor for ward 115, welcomes the establishment of the group.

He says it will work closely with the park’s steering committee and the City of Cape Town to preserve and make the park a better space.

Bryant says he recently considered building relations with the vendors around the park and proposes an establishment of a formal trading structure to support local entrepreneurship.

He says it is through partnerships that the park will be sustained and its legacy restored. He says this is one of the historic public spaces in the heart of the CBD.

  •  For more information about membership, visit the Facebook page Friends of the Company’s Garden..

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