You don’t need a large piece of land to grow vegetables. This is the lesson from the Durban city centre, where the rooftop of a building has been turned into a vegetable farm.
The rooftop garden is a project of Priority Zone - a multi-departmental initiative to green the city centre and encourage civic pride. It is also part of the eThekwini Municipality’s Inner City Regeneration Project.
Nonhlanha Nyandeni, public relations officer of Priority Zone, says making money was not the aim behind the rooftop garden at the Priority Zone building on Monty Naicker Street.
“It is mainly for educational purpose and we are saying, within a confined space and with little budget, you can still have something to eat at the end of the day,” she points out.
From its rooftop garden Priority Zone provides fresh vegetables to local charities, old age homes and orphanages.
These vegetables include beetroot, spinach, cauliflower, carrots, herbs and cabbage, which are grown in the 200m by 400m rooftop garden.
“Within a confined space you can still have something to eat and provide for others who don’t have the capacity to do so themselves,” Nyandeni adds.
With government encouraging people to go green, Nyandeni says the zone is a good idea as it teaches people that they can grow food wherever they are.
The zone gets more than 100 visitors per month, mostly school kids. It recently hosted school children from Esiqumeni Junior Secondary School in the Eastern Cape to educate them about the environment.
Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry Minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson also visited the zone recently and urged other cities to use the idea to feed its residents.
The green building forms part of efforts by the eThekwini Municipality to sweep crime and dirt off the streets of the Durban city centre and make it more attractive to both locals and tourists.
The zone employs about 150 people, including 40 security guards, 40 cleaners and 20 landscapers, who providing top up services to those provided by the eThekwini Municipality.
The municipality has teamed up with a private company, Drake & Skull Facilities Management, in a public-private partnership to revive the city centre. Since it was started in 2010, the project has seen security personnel being deployed, the inner city being cleaned up and the open spaces landscaped, making the inner city safer, cleaner and greener.