“the space in-between…”
– an opportunity for urban food gardening in Cape Town. A collaboration between Central Methodist Mission and Touching the Earth Lightly ™
By Stephen Lamb, founder, Touching the Earth Lightly ™
Cities are full. Space is at a premium. A garage space in the city sells for R3 million. We cannot build “out”, so we build “up”, creating high-rise buildings, constantly seeking more space. More space to live, to work, to consume. In this process we have done two things – created “dead and lost spaces” and severed our umbilical cord with the earth beneath the asphalt and cement, beneath our feet.
We no longer grow our own food. We go to shops when we are hungry. We have exchanged the soil under our feet for the money in our wallet. We have forgotten where food and water come from. We import food into our city with trucks. We turn on taps, open bottles, close taps, throw bottles away.
And while presuming the City is “full” – that roads and buildings have defined the use of all spaces – we have neglected the spaces between fence and wall, between the wall and gutter, between window and window-sill, and on the hundreds of rooftops that lie empty and barren inside our city – never imaging spaces for creative thought or natural life. The spaces left by traditional architecture and town planning.
We can rediscover these spaces. Define a meaningful purpose for these spaces. These “in-between spaces” and empty rooftops all around our city can be our city’s farmlands utilising nature’s free gifts of sun, rain and fresh air. Roof top spaces are “vertical area growing spaces” where we can create vertical growing food security systems applying low-tech vertical gardening methods. This creates opportunities for employment, thus helping to alleviate homelessness in Cape Town while presenting ever more meaningful opportunities for the creation of “green jobs”. Let our “talk” about job creation mean something for a change.
With all this in mind, the Central Methodist Mission and Touching the Earth Lightly have collaborated to explore the notion of developing “the in-between spaces” by creating a “shop window” of portable, edible fruits and vegetables grown on-site in the “in-between” space between the Church’s wall and its fence line.
Inside this space, a variety of vegetables and fruits will be grown in milk-crates. Here, they will be stored, displayed and distributed further. Issues of safety will be addressed. The “take-home message” will be captured in the simplicity of being able to do just that – to take home a milk-crate filled with soil and healthy fruit and vegetables. This venture hopes to highlight the importance of food security in cities and suggest opportunities for furthering this in simple, practical and meaningful ways.