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I can’t change the world, but I can change the way I live in the world.

Having grown up on a farm and having harboured fantasies about living a crofting lifestyle on an isolated island for most of my childhood, it was surprising that I fell in love with a little house in the middle of the city. It had a garden that was larger than the house; that the outside space was covered in cement pavers didn’t matter: there a lemon tree! After renting for about 10 years, the little house finally came on the market and my ‘forever after’ took a step closer to reality.

I’m not sure when my obsession with vegetable gardening started. I have not used insecticides in garden for nearly 20 years. I have learnt to grow enough not only for myself, but also for the caterpillars and the snails (who actually prefer dried leaves, so I leave those on the ground as a mulch.

Water is a big topic at the moment. Whether we obsess about it or whether we ignore the problem hoping it will somehow resolve itself - the fact is: Without water there is no life.


Slow steps towards sustainable living in the city...

‘Closing the circle’

Composting etc

Challenges of personal sustainability in an urban environment

Vegetable Garden

It is 2017 and Cape Town is experiencing its second or third year of the worst drought in 100 years. Concerns as to when we are going to run out of water, starts everyone (at least in my circle of friends) thinking about how to save water (I’ll bore you with that later). My first priority is keeping my vegetable garden alive! I had just installed two 2000l rainwater harvesting tanks for the purpose of being able to water my garden with non-potable water, literally two months before the first water restrictions were implemented.

What can I say about about composting that hasn’t already been said! I love it! I think everyone should do it and if you’re not doing it - you should be! There are many options for composting, whether you live in a flat, a small house, a large house, a small holding or an informal settlement. I like to think of composting as a gateway to a better understanding of and relationship with our environment and our food cycle. 

I am privileged in that I do have space at my house where I can grow at least some of my fresh food requirements. I have also made a conscious choice to retain all the open space around my house and not to extend the building footprint to the boundary line, for the very reason to allow space not only for myself, but also for god’s other creatures to live. Was it Ghandi who said that ‘live simply so others may simply live’?

Apologies, Mr Maslow, I think the basic human requirements for life are much more basic than your hierarchy: Shelter, food and water. (We’ll take air as a given - things have not yet become so bad that we can’t breathe without thinking about it!). We need these things before we can start worrying about self esteem, self fulfillment and the other things that make our lives worth living.

Vegetable GardenVeggie_Garden.html
Composting etcComposting_etc.html