Soil that keeps giving

2019-07-16 06:00


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Soil for Life, a non-profit organisation in Constantia is changing lives with one seed at a time.

Founded in 2002 by Pat Featherstone (72), the aim of the organisation is to teach people how to work the soil and grow healthy plants so that families can sit down to plates of safe, fresh, nutritious food all year round.

They run several programmes like home gardening, health and well-being and they hold courses and workshops as well as educational visits to the organisation. They strive to teach people to look after the environment and recycle.

Featherstone, a zoologist and a teacher has always had a passion for gardening, something she picked up from her mother and other relatives. Her turning point was when she joined the Food Gardening Foundation and she noticed that people were going home to no food.

“What really got to me was that people who were working there will go home to no food or even if they had, they were eating unhealthy stuff, mostly from tins and this was not right. With talking to people and starting something at a nearby school, things grew from there,” she says.

Soil for Life has become a beacon of hope for the unemployed and most people are changing their lives for the better through what they are taught by the organisation.

Looking back at how the journey has been since starting the organisation, Featherstone says: “I never realised things will get like this. It is all through taking one step at a time,” she says, adding that at times she got a bit cumbersome because she had to do everything.

However, as the organisation grew the load got lighter and she got more people on board.

She loves every minute that she spends at the organisation. “What I seriously love about this work is that you meet people that you have never met before. People that are kind, caring and intelligent. People that just needed an opportunity in life. What is also truly amazing is the appreciation from the people that we work with,” she says.

Featherstone adds that gardening has a lot of benefits. “Putting your hands in the soil and especially when barefoot the connection with the soil makes you feel better. It is also a good exercise, you’re outside, breathing fresh air. It is just de-stressing and you’re in contact with nature,” she says.

Apart from spending so much time at the organisation, Featherstone also enjoys reading and spending time in nature. She also spends a lot of time with her five dogs.

“They (dogs) go with me everywhere, they even come to work with me. I had nine of them. Now they are five. Reading is also my favourite because one gains a lot of information and insight to a lot of things,” she says.

  • To learn more about Soil for Life visit or call 021 794 4982 or email


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