The mother of all ironies: children who love vegetables


John Kennedy, an elderly man with thinning white hair, walks barefoot through his garden. It’s full of vegetables, herbs and seedlings. A group of kids stand by the fence watching Kennedy. Eventually, they approach him. The bravest one speaks: “We want a garden. Just like you!”

This was the moment the Food Garden Project was born. Part of the Oude Molen Eco Village, it serves the youth of Cape Town’s Maitland Village, teaching them to grow and sell their own vegetables. It currently hosts 12 children between the ages of seven and 18. They are given a small plot of land to manage and grow a wide variety of crops. Kennedy emphasises the importance of permaculture or the development of sustainable agriculture.

The project offers an after-school activity that gets children to engage with their environment. They get useful life skills and learn the responsibility of ownership. These kids understand how to be diligent with food and money – vital skills growing up. The garden has become a place where they have a sense of community, identity and spirit.