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Bellville’s first urban food garden brings hope

Writer: Nikki van Coller

The Greater Tygerberg Partnership (GTP) in collaboration with MES – Safe Space, GrowZA and Xylem yesterday officially opened Bellville’s urban food garden, known as the Life Changing Garden, with its first spring harvest now available to the community.

For Bellville, the second metropolitan node of the City of Cape Town, the food garden is most definitely changing lives by supporting the nutritional wellbeing of homeless and jobless adults in the area, providing water and food security, developing urban farming skills, and providing affordable healthy produce for sale to the community to raise funds for the urban gardening project.

The new borehole is important to ensure a sustainable source of water.

From Wednesday 6 October 2021 the local community can purchase fresh produce daily at MES Safe Space, AJ West Str Bellville, for just R10 per item of lettuce, spinach, chamalia, turnips, leeks, celery and spring onion.

Their mission is to empower people holistically to live independent, sustainable and meaningful lives. The objective with this urban food garden project is to generate income, improve health, nutrition and food security at the MES – Safe Space and to encourage and empower the surrounding community to start their own food gardens.

“With the devastating global pandemic affecting communities the importance of water and food security in cities, and helping the poor has been glaringly highlighted,” says Warren Hewitt, CEO of the Greater Tygerberg Partnership, a development facilitation agency charged with a mandate to unlock Bellville’s potential as a sustainable, prosperous and inclusive leading African city.

GTP joined the garden initiative in February 2021, generously funding a support and mentorship program, undertaken by Horticulturist Paul Barker who has been working with the beneficiaries at the MES – Safe Space, with a 10-module training and mentorship program.

Together the Greater Tygerberg Partnership, MES – Safe Space, as well as Xylem, a water solutions company and GrowZA, a non-profit organisation that facilitates Economic Growth and Enterprise Development, aims to develop a thriving urban agriculture and learning centre that benefits the entire community.

Chetan Mistry, strategy and marketing manager at Xylem adds, “Our contribution forms part of Xylem’s Watermark CSR initiative where our goal is to create water security, and we partnered on this project to provide water and food security for the homeless and the wider community.”

The food garden has the ability to grow into a larger urban farming initiative as there is more land on site and there is space to plant trees. The open space includes a variety of uses that will benefit the residents of Bellville and the surrounding community. For example, the space can be used as a field trip destination for local students as an outdoor learning lab where they can learn about permaculture and land management.

Far right Xylem, Strategy and Marketing Manager, Chetan Mistry
Left to Right: Shane Grobbelaar, Dale Dosshof, Edmund Martis, Hendrik Coetzee and Ilse Greyling.

The GTP is committed to working closely with the City of Cape Town and to foster effective partnerships with community groups and residents and to establish a spirit of openness, inclusion and capacity building. This project is one of many exciting projects and collaborations to be spearheaded by the GTP.

For more info go to

About Watermark is Xylem’s corporate social responsibility program: Their mission is to provide education and equitable access to safe water and sanitation to support healthy lives and help build resilient communities.

About GrowZA is part think tank, part policy shop and part project incubator serving the African development agenda through access-based development partnerships.

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