See How Our Garden Grows

“Every home must have a garden” declares Ntombenhle Mtambo passionately. Not content with turning her tiny back yard into a food forest, Ntombenhle has been pestering the uMngeni Municipality for the past 8 years to allow her to use a vacant plot, which residents have been using as a dumping site, for a food garden.  This is a collection of photos taken between August and December 2014 of the progress made on the corner of Mhlongo and Stadium Roads in Mpophomeni.

r Mpop Garden Site Aug 2014

Volunteers began by clearing the rubbish from the site

r Mpop garden Sept 424

eish, so much buried plastic!

r barrowfull of plastic waste

Removing rocks

making progress

and levelling

r Mpop garden Sept 436

Once the fence was up, real gardening could start. Thanks Hilton and Howick Rotary for sponsoring the fence.

fence goes up

“This is so important,” Ntombenhle says, “Everyone should have the ability to afford a healthy lifestyle. In this garden we will share skills and teach people to recycle all the things they think are waste.”

late afternoon light 130

The first swales is marked and dug

r mpop garden october starting swales

More beds and swales spread across the site

r mpop garden october 044 swales

Everyone is learning as they work.

r mpop garden october digging swale

Seedlings are gathered from gardens at home

r mpop garden october onions

and planting the beds begins.

r mpop garden october 023 planting row

How wonderful the gardens are already taking shape. Ntombenhle, your enthusiasm is contagious. I shall be sure to remember you next time we are harvesting seedlings from the Khula Shanti gardens. Also, remember to get some sunflowers in – they are such HAPPY plants and grow well alongside mielies. Very proud of you, well done.” Carol Segal Khula Shanti Food Gardens

r mpop garden october 038 planting spinach

“Wonderful work, hope we can work with this remarkable group into 2015. African Conservation Trust will definitely be contacting them! Well done, now to spread the virus of gardening for food!” Francois du Toit African Conservation Trust

r DSCN3320

Trees and shrubs for windbreaks and shelter are planted.

r tree planting

It takes a lot of effort to get them all watered in.r watering trees

“This is fantastic Ntombenhle and team. Well done on your perseverance and hard work. I can’t wait to come and visit your garden and contribute my two cents worth of plants.” Karen Zunckel KZN Sustainability Forum


Compost and cardboard is collected from around the township and people are encouraged to donate grass clippings to use as mulch.

r DSCN3400

Then work starts on the other side of the garden – more clearing, more swales, more beds…

r DSCN3324

“Congratulations to everyone who is working so hard to grow food in Mpophomeni! You are all an inspiration. I hope to stop by and see for myself what you have done. A dream becoming reality.” Christeen Grant, Boston

r DSCN3401

The herb spiral is marked out

r marking with lime DSCN3421

The nursery is started and before you know it, passers by are stopping to buy seedlings.

r seedlings

Trees are labelled

mpop garden Nov 2014 014

Pedestrians stop to read the signs.

mpop garden Nov 2014 033

Everything starts to grow!

mpop garden Nov 2014 011

The garden gets greener every week!

mpop garden Nov 2014 025

Radishes are the first crop we can eat.

r radish picking

We can already harvest and sell greens!

mpop garden Nov 2014 023

Hope, Maxwell and Skhumbuzo are our garden champions – volunteering every day whatever the weather.

r skhumbuzo, hope, maxwell

We need to keep watering in the summer heat. Luckily, the small stream keeps flowing strongly.


Mulch is essential to help keep the soil cool.

r ntombenhle greens

The sunflowers are reaching for the sky!

r sunflower reach for the sky

The green beans are climbing the old fence!

r beans on old fence

The radishes are so big now, we don’t know what to do with them!

r giant radishes

Ntombenhle concludes “This piece of land is going to bring lots of fun, unity in the community, new skills and challenges. I can see a bright future if the community roll up their sleeves and learn to make money out of waste and gardening.”

r ntombenhle harvesting

Come and see for yourself what is happening on the corner of Mhlongo and Stadium Roads in Mpophomeni. Or like us on

r flourishing mpop garden december 2015 r

7 thoughts on “See How Our Garden Grows

  1. Oh wow, you guys have done a miraculous job. I am so impressed and inspired. We must really keep in touch and connect the produce with markets. Kind regards, Carol, Imifino Slow Food


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