- Ghalema Easton, a pensioner from Cape Town, started her verge vegetable garden during lockdown.
- The 10m grassy patch outside her home now contains carrots, beetroot, spinach and an apple tree.
- Easton hopes all the verges in her road can be turned into gardens.
Ghalema Easton, a pensioner in the southern suburbs of Cape Town, has converted the verge outside her house into a vegetable garden. She has always dreamt of turning the underutilised grass patch outside her home into a garden and got the chance during lockdown.
"I have always had the dream of creating a vegetable garden outside my house. When lockdown started there was absolutely no one in the street," she explained.
Easton quickly sprung into action and roped in her husband. The two dug up the grassy patch and planted apple, pomegranate and tamarillo trees.
She also planted marigold flowers around the fruit trees to keep them hidden as they grow taller.
"You know, I hid them so that when people drive past all they see are the marigolds. After a while the fruit trees will be rooted in the soil and they can't be pulled out," she said.
Watching and waiting
Easton waited to see if the City of Cape Town would come and flatten her garden. She waited a month, and when it was still there, she continued extending her garden – until it reached the corner of the block.
Now, she grows carrots, spinach and beetroot on the 10m verge. She's already received feedback from the public who have helped themselves to the vegetables.
"We need to start changing the mindset of people. They think they are stealing it, but the food is really for them," she explained.
The pensioner, a self-confessed seed freak and soil enthusiast, encouraged the public to help themselves to the crops. Easton hopes that one day all the verge patches in her road will become vegetable gardens that feed the needy.
"One day people will have money but no food to eat. Lockdown put a spotlight on the food issue we have in the country," she said.
Making a change
Easton wants to create more gardens in her street and in other communities to make food more accessible to those who need it most.
"If there is food everywhere, you won't have people stealing anything, because there is food in abundance," Easton said.
She has created another verge garden four blocks down the road from her home and is helping a neighbour turn a corner verge into an almost 20m vegetable garden.
Easton hopes the City of Cape Town can assist small growers with boreholes to water the crops as the summer months approach.
"I hope more people make the change and turn any open space they have into food gardens. Churches, mosques and schools are ideal, so that they can provide food for their people," she said.