On Thursday 18 July, otherwise known as Mandela Day, Neighbourhood Farm began planting phase one of their rain garden in Fish Hoek. Fortunately, for the environment, the effects of their work will be seen for much longer than just one day of the year.Justin Bonello, founder of Neighbourhood Farm, a non-profit organisation, is looking to create sustainability for local communities by building market gardens, which double as outdoor classrooms, in communities that need them. “I like to call it creating a well-being economy. We have to look at how we keep local economies alive through community building, creating employment and entrepreneurship,” he said.The organisation has four key sites which have been planted or are being planted in phases; namely the market garden at Laerskool Paul Greyling, the project at False Bay Hospital, Kommetjie Primary School’s Neighbourhood Farm and their training market garden at Ocean View Secondary School. “The dream is to inspire the rest of South Africa to look at water differently and create a mosaic of these farms, spread across the Western Cape that replicate this model of sustainable urban farming,” said Bonello. In addition, the organisation hopes to create as many jobs as possible, with about 36 employees currently; produce healthy foods for school children and underprivileged communities such as Ocean View; provide a platform for entrepreneurs to market their produce; and teach communities to grow and protect the environment.As part of their Mandela Day efforts, the team began building a rain garden outside the Fish Hoek Subcouncil offices, where rainwater can be harvested from road surfaces and put back into the earth rather than being fast-tracked into the ocean.Aimee Kuhl, ward councillor, acknowledged the organisation for their work. “Subcouncil 19 enjoys the partnership with Neighbourhood Farms which also brings opportunities for skills development and employment, as well as looking at how the council can incorporate sustainability methods such as harvesting the rain and utilising stormwater runoff.“We would like to commend Justin Bonello for his vision and his team for their dedication to the project and the upliftment of the local communities.”The organisation encourages the public to visit their gardens, buy fresh produce from their markets and invest in the local community to strengthen the economy. V For more information visit https://neighbourhoodfarm.org.