Community Food Gardens helped with grey water systems in drought-stricken Western Cape

Jun 1, 2017

The Western Cape has been declared a disaster zone for the worsening drought and everyone is looking to save water in various ways. While residents are seeing their gardens brown and plants die from the lack of water, there are certain gardens that are just too important to wither.

These are the sustainable food gardens at various community projects across the Western Province that need the produce to feed those in their care.

One such project is Lily Haven Place in Bonteheuwel which relies on their vegetable garden to provide meals for the almost 120 elderly men and women they look after. Beetroot, cabbage and spinach are just some of the crops that Lily Haven can't afford to lose.

In partnership with Urban Harvest, a social enterprise which builds and sustains edible gardens, the Shoprite Group helped Lily Haven care for their garden by installing a grey water system.

The residents collect their bath water in a bucket after which it is sent through the purifying system. It then goes into another bucket and is drawn into the sprinkler system.  

The water is audited by Urban Harvest to check the quality. The system works through three filters including a wetland filter which leaves the water clear and suitable for microjet irrigation and vegetables.

Xolela Mbilini, manager at Lily Haven Place, says the vegetable garden is vital as the organisation doesn't have enough funds for the meals they need to provide. The menu for the day is dependent on which of the garden's vegetables are ready to harvest.

The grey water system was a brilliant initiative because we need to find a way to keep the garden running without using precious drinking water. - Xolela Mbilini

Not only will the system help Lily Haven to adhere to level 4 water restrictions (instituted by the City of Cape Town) to save water, but reusing water for irrigation will also lower their monthly water bill in the future. According to Ben Getz, from Urban Harvest, the newly installed system has the capacity to reuse 4 500 litres of grey water per month, ideal to water the food garden.

The Shoprite Group and Urban Harvest also partnered to help with the installation of another grey water system at Iris House Children's Hospice in Stikland. Iris House care for special needs children with life-threatening illness and or life-limiting conditions and provides support to their families.

As part of the continuing effort to reuse grey water, Iris House is committed to using only biodegradable detergents.

Sue van der Linde, Founder of Iris House says:

We now have plenty of water for the vegetable garden. Children attending the hospice sessions enjoy the hearty meals cooked from the vegetables harvested from the garden. Leftover fresh vegetables (there are always plenty) are then sent out to our families in need. This is often the only source of fresh vegetables these families have.

For the Group, this is part of our commitment to being a business with heart and continuing to #ActForChange to support our communities. These food gardens are key to our sustainable solutions to fighting hunger.