City of Cape Town ’encourages people like Cabbage Bandit to start a vegetable garden in unused spaces’
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Cape Town – The Tshwane resident known as the “Cabbage Bandit” – who has vowed not to pay the fine issued to him by the metro police department for planting vegetables on the pavement – would be treated more favourably were he to move to Cape Town.
Djo BaNkuna, of Theresa Park, whose plight has sparked outrage countrywide, believes the section of the law the police used to charge him did not prevent him from planting vegetables. He was served with a notice to pay a fine of R1 500 for interfering with a municipal infrastructure.
The vegetables are used to feed his neighbours and the homeless that his social worker wife assists.
The City of Cape Town, however, adopts a totally different approach in these times of increased food insecurity and poverty.
Grant Twigg, the mayoral committee member for urban management at the City of Cape Town, told Cape Talk on Thursday that spaces left unused often become dumping grounds, therefore it encourages the planting of both flower and vegetable gardens in public spaces as long as the area has pedestrian walkways and does not obstruct access
’’From our side, we would encourage people to do exactly what the gentleman did, because one of the things we are encouraging is that people look after the area immediately adjacent to their property… In the City of Cape Town, we are actually encouraging people to start up vegetable gardens.
’’I think the by-law that would have come in there, would be one where people should not use municipal property without the necessary authority, but also avoiding people from walking on the sidewalks…
’’Our officials do not just go around and harass people when they do something like that. There are gardens all around Cape Town that have been going for a long time.’’
Asanda Mditshwa, a senior lecturer in the Department of Horticultural Sciences, School of Agricultural, Earth and Environmental Sciences at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, is of the opinion municipality by-laws should be progressive and must be consistently updated to address peoples’ needs.
’’Foodscaping or edible landscaping is one the emerging global trends in the gardening landscaping industry. It is defined as the incorporation of edible plants for their aesthetic and nutritive value,’’ Mditshwa said.
Foodscaping is currently practised in many countries, including USA, Mexico, Ireland and Canada. It is quite unfortunate that Tshwane, a capital city of South Africa, has not yet entertained the idea of foodscaping, particularly considering the high unemployment and hunger.
’’Until municipality by-laws are revised in order to merge urbanism with sustainable food systems, the country may never overcome hunger. One of the major setbacks of the industrial farming system is that it often separates people from their food.
’’Foodscaping, as practised by Mr BaNkuna, should be encouraged and embraced by our municipalities as it an innovative strategy of fighting hunger and improving food security.’’