Salt River garden promotes positive behaviour

It’s been about a year since a dump site in Salt River was transformed into a thriving vegetable garden – and it has had a significant impact on the community.

Baz-Art, an organisation that transforms urban spaces through art played a big role in bringing colour into Salt River. Rainbow Warriors International, Unicef South Africa and Progress London consulted also partnered with this project.

The neighbours closest to the dump site were consulted last year with the idea of transforming the site into a space that will benefit the community.

The site was a dump site for waste and criminals before the garden was established. It took less than a month for the workers to complete the site.

Since the garden was established, residents have witnessed the impact it has made in the community so far.

Salt River garden caretaker and resident Nur Meyer said: “This space was used as a dump site for at least 30 years. People would come to the dump site and throw their litter and waste bags outside the gate onto the pavement. I would then have to throw this dump over the wall to get it off the street.”

He said the dump site attracted many rats. Vagrants and criminals also climbed into the space to scratch in the dump and often used drugs there.

“Four to five trips were done on a daily basis to remove the waste from the site and drop it at Muizenberg dump site because the City wouldn’t collect this waste,” said Mr Meyer.

There are three sites situated next to each other, two have been transformed into a garden and one was made into a soccer field.

Mr Meyer said the youth in Salt River had played their part by painting the walls. The garden also attracted many elderly people and foreigners. It mainly encouraged children to not play in the streets but rather in a safer space where they could be monitored.

“We are so fortunate to be able to turn this space into something positive for the community. On Saturday evenings, the neighbours would come together and sit in the garden to play games and have community meetings. The community also gets harvest from the garden and anyone is welcomed to fetch vegetables they may need,” he said.

Baz-Art art facilitator Mark Jeneker said: “The children of Salt River were allowed to be creative and express themselves through their involvement with the garden. I also often bring children from other communities to this garden. Its nice that children from Salt River are able to meet children from Mitchell’s Plain and other areas.”

He said the garden had allowed children to get together who may never have met.

“Bringing children from other communities into the Salt River garden has also opened up their eyes to another part of Cape Town as some of them have not seen Table Mountain before,“ he said.

In the afternoons, the children in the community can go to the space after school to check if there are any activities happening. They can also ask the caretaker of the garden for the key to open up the space after school.

Mr Jeneker said the parents could also accompany their children to the space, which would give them the opportunity to meet other parents in the area.