Shelter’s veg garden gets a boost

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“On Saturday 17 April, members of the Lions Club of Fish Hoek gathered at Happy Valley in Simon’s Town to officially celebrate the completion of their 14-month environmental project – a baboon-proof enclosure for a substantial vegetable garden which will greatly assist the homeless to become self-sustainable as they cultivate their very own vegetables and create a rewarding learning environment,” reads a Facebook post from the club. PHOTO: Facebook
“On Saturday 17 April, members of the Lions Club of Fish Hoek gathered at Happy Valley in Simon’s Town to officially celebrate the completion of their 14-month environmental project – a baboon-proof enclosure for a substantial vegetable garden which will greatly assist the homeless to become self-sustainable as they cultivate their very own vegetables and create a rewarding learning environment,” reads a Facebook post from the club. PHOTO: Facebook

Despite the six-month project becoming stretched over 14 months, as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, the Lions Club of Fish Hoek has completed the work on a sustainable food garden at Happy Valley, a shelter for homeless people, to empower its residents.

Ingrid Russell, chair of the Fish Hoek club, says the project to improve the vegetable garden at the shelter is just one of many projects they have launched in partnership with the non profit organisation (NPO).

“We’ve been doing work helping out at Happy Valley for quite a few years. They had a vegetable garden, and it was a lot smaller but, unfortunately, it was getting destroyed by the baboons,” she says.

And so they began to devise solutions for the shelter. Making use of the skills and expertise of the club’s members, Russell says they were able to build a bigger, baboon-proof vegetable garden.

“It’s completely enclosed and baboon-proof, with a wire mesh fence covering and a gate – it’s got a little security gate that you must enter through,” she says, adding that skills development will also be donated by various role players.

“A lot of the equipment is being donated – they do get a lot of donations in the form of seedlings and plants; and they will get someone in to teach them to plant and grow sustainably to help themselves. The aim is to empower them and make them sustainable so they can take the knowledge with them when they leave too.”

Patrick Msakayeya, chief executive officer at Happy Valley, has been running the shelter for the past four years. He says the upgrades made to the sustainable food garden are important to facilitate the empowerment of the people who live in the shelter.

“We take in homeless people and we want to empower them to be self-sufficient and give them a sense of ownership and purpose in life. The vegetable garden is a skills-development programme so they can be employable and even use their skills for themselves. We want to make them productive and able to contribute positively to society,” he says.

The completion of the garden enclosure saw some of the clients at the shelter getting involved, Msakayeya says, adding: “They’re looking forward to seeing the fruits of their hard work.”

Planting of the seedlings is currently taking place but Msakayeya says more help is always appreciated.

“For now I can say if the public gets involved in projects, that will help, because it’s a huge responsibility for one person to run everything. We need teams – even if just once a month to give us ideas. Quite a lot can be done. We would also appreciate a donation of old pots or seedlings. But anything will help.”

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