Radishes and broccoli are not top of my veggie hit parade but I’ve new respect for them. That’s the result of a convivial morning spent on a recent wet Tuesday at Soil for Life’s (SFL) premises in Brounger Way, Constantia, doing my bit to create 270 packets of seeds of both winter vegetables.
Founded by Pat Featherstone in 2002, SFL is a non-profit company assisting local communities overcome hunger, poverty and unemployment. Since 2009 when it introduced its award-programme to establish tiny green oases of sustainable gardens in the smallest of spaces, it has trained 2 433 people to grow nutritious produce for their families.
However, I hadn’t a clue what was involved when I responded to an ad calling for volunteers to pack seeds. I expected it to be fun and it was.
First mistake was to think the empty packets would look like those in plant nurseries with pretty pictures on the cover. Instead I found a pile of old newspapers, waiting to be transformed into small staple-closed envelopes, each with the name of the seeds written on the outside.
Seventy-five pairs of busy hands from different community groups and five volunteers were soon beavering away, mass-producing the seed packets needed for the last 300 of this year’s intake of 800 home gardeners.
They are trained in three cycles with SFL supplying the gardeners with seeds for the two seasons in their first year, after that they have to save their own.
“You should join the programme,” urged one motherly Philippi gardener. “But you must be committed. The course lasts 12 weeks and every week the teachers come to a different home to tell us what to do. To think I’ll soon be cooking and eating my own beetroots, carrots, cabbages and of course the onions which you must plant to keep away the goggas.”
If anyone needs inspiration to become a home gardener, a short amble around Pat Featherstone’s wonderfully informal and interesting veggie garden in Brounger Way, should do the trick. Since the success of the home gardeners’ project, SFL added the Train-the-Trainer programme in 2013. This is for home gardeners to train others, either as part of the SFL team or as independent small businesses.
Like the healthy veggies in their garden, SFL keeps on growing…
My recent whinge about the miserly laces of my new running shoes making it difficult to tie a secure double knot, produced a surprise response from Arthur G Clarke, well-known for keeping an eye on anyone letting standards slip in Tokai.
He wrote telling me he does up the laces on his hiking boots in the normal fashion, except that just before he pulls the bow through to tighten the lace “he puts the right loop over and under the right lace in front and pulls it tight … “Then it will never come undone. It’s better than a double knot, I think. Then to loosen the whole thing, you simply pull the two ends and – voila!
“Not sure if you will follow my explanation but next time I see you I’ll show you.”
Next time I see Arthur I will have something to tell him! The May issue of the Tokai Residents’ Association’s newsletter, opens with a letter from the chairperson an-nouncing that he was stepping down at the end of the month after three years at the helm, and five on the committee. But nowhere in that newsletter did it mention that the chairperson was Arthur Clarke!
Nevertheless, everybody knows that and he deserves our thanks for eight years of hard hands-on work keeping Tokai such a pleasant place.
He named his successor Errol Kohn and published his photo.
Farewell to Dex
I received a touching email with lovely photos from Karen Potgieter, owner of the staffie-sharpei mix that died tragically in that freak accident a fortnight ago in the Lower Tokai Park. Four-year-old Dex, she wrote, was a dear friend who deserved to be remembered for the beautiful life that he lived and not just the tragic way he died.
“In early 2014 we adopted undernourished Dex and a three-month old pup, Liza, a canis afrikanis, from Barking Mad in Pretoria. These two beautiful creatures have filled our lives with immeasurable love and joy, despite the occasional rug being eaten or another patch of lawn destroyed.
“My husband and I have faced several trials and tribulations over the past few years. Unlike many people, our dogs have provided us with unconditional love and comfort and it is thus with very deep sadness that I had to say goodbye to my comforter and companion with little warning or preparation.
“All I can remember is the vet saying that he could find no sign of a broken neck. Perhaps the as-sumption that he died in a similar fashion to Phil Hughes is true. Perhaps Phil and Dex are in the same place now, enjoying a game of cricket. Or rather, Phil chasing Dex to get his ball back….”
Karen’s letter ended thanking the women who helped her on the day of the accident.
“It’s nice to know that we belong to a caring community. A community that looks out for one another and makes the best of what nature has to offer. And of course, a community that loves their dogs.”
My Oom prefers not to think before speaking. He likes being just as surprised as everyone else by what comes out of his mouth.