Feeding the heart and mind

Vegan caterer Natalie Reid, wearing orange apron, explains the dishes to Gugu Mazibuko of Bergvliet, Sungeni Labatsenga of Soil for Life, Annette Fatti of Kirstenhof and Marilyn Thomas of Hout Bay.

Chocolate mousse made from avocados, milk from pumpkin seeds, green juice from veggies picked fresh from the garden and granola concocted with mesquite. What better way to celebrate Youth Month than sharing a delicious, nutritious meal surrounded by a garden where many of the ingredients were freshly picked that morning?

Soil for Life has advocated feeding the heart and feeding the mind with goodies out of your own garden long before growing your own food became trendy.

Founder of the Constantia-based non-profit organisation, Pat Featherstone, grew up with soil under her fingernails. The seeds were sown as a child, watching her mum, bum in the air, digging, producing food and passing on her knowledge.

“It was the 1960s, the start when the environmental crisis hit, when reading Rachel Carson’s book, and other similar ones, shocked me,” she says.

She lost this thread when she went off to university, but took it up again when she started teaching. She realised that her students did not understand the essence of life: where foods originate, the importance of pollens.

Someone gave her the idea of teaching people how to grow food. And as she taught this skill, she realised that people were learning a lot more than how to benefit from the Earth’s bounty: they were learning something about themselves too, that they were resourceful, spiritual and creative. “You see them and the change. You see it in front of you,” said Pat’s daughter Mikhela Hawker, who lives in Observatory and appears to be following in her mom and grandmother’s footsteps, despite studying jewellery design.

And so what next? With a twinkle in her eye and a flush to her cheeks, Pat reveals plans to create a college. This after requests from those who have changed their lives and those of their family and community. People wanting to learn more and to raise their living standard.

To find out more, contact 021 794 4982, info@soilforlife.co.za or www. soilforlife.co.za