Ideas for community food gardening projects

This page is about other successful community service projects in South Africa and other countries that we can all learn from. Suggestions to any such projects would be appreciated and can be sent to us via email:

African Gardens Saves Lives in Africa

The Send a Cow page contains video clips on various projects, such as keyhole gardens, bag gardens, natural pesticides, etc.

Keyhole gardens are so productive; you can grow vegetables, all year round!

A keyhole garden recycles as it grows. The design – which looks like a keyhole from above – incorporates a central basket where composted waste is put and water from the kitchen is poured. They work better than normal raised beds; as the soil is constantly fed from the central basket they grow a lot of vegetables in a small area!

Step-by-step instructions can be found here:

Bag Gardens

Their clever vertical design means Bag Gardens can grow up to 50 vegetables at one time!

Bag Gardens are a great way to start growing or to liven up your existing patch. They are a sack filled with a mixture of compost and soil around a central column of stones. Water is filtered to the vegetables planted on the top and in the sides – and voila, you have a multi-storey vegetable garden!

Planting potatoes in tyres

Potatoes can be grown easily in old tyres, especially if your garden is very small. This method can also be used for older people who cannot work so easily in a garden any more and also for people in wheelchairs.

Potato rings

by Natalie Rowles from Pinetown

The potato rings were my idea to help people who have only a small piece of land, i.e. squatters and refugee camps, to have something to eat within two months, that will be nourishing enough to survive on.

Potatoes are the easiest and most compact crop under the sun if grown in this way without using expensive bought compost and poison sprays. They use any available bio-waste as a growing medium and waste water if no taps are available to water these plants.

Old people can harvest the baby potatoes by just easily lifting the top ring off, looking for the biggest potatoes, replacing the ring again and filling it up with more soil, for further growth and a bigger crop, without damaging potatoes by using garden forks.

These potato ring stacks will repay their costs quickly as very little water is used. I have got seven stacks planted next to each other – one per day, so harvest one after the other and let them grow on for a longer harvest too.

More about the potatoes in rings.

Description: Service Learning Keywords: keyhole gardens, growing vegetables, Lesotho

Description: Service Learning Keywords: growing vegetables, easy, vegetables in bags

Description: Service Learning Keywords: food gardens, growing vegetables, potatoes, tyres

Description: Service Learning Keywords: Valour, potatoes, potatoe seeds, rings
First ring of potatoes

Description: Service Learning Keywords: potatoes, Up-to-Date
22 days after planting green Up-to-Date potatoes

Description: Service Learning Keywords: potatoes, rings,
Potatoes are growing at 5-10 cm per day

Description: Service Learning Keywords: growing potatoes, rings

Growing vegetables in compost trenchbeds

A compost trench-bed is an inexpensive way of supplying fresh vegetables to your household. Organic matter from around the house can be used to fill the beds.

This small trench-bed can be easily watered. It is easy to check for pests, diseases and weeds, and you can easily reach every part of the bed without having to stand on the soil in the bed.

You can start with a second trench-bed immediately after planting the first. In the next four weeks you can fill the second trench with all the organic matter that you can lay your hands on.
After planting the second trench-bed, you can start a third one, and after that, a fourth one. By doing this you will have vegetables all year round if monthly sowing is done.

After four months you will have four beds, each at a different stage of growth. From bed 1 you have already been eating some vegetables and you can soon start with the next planting. In bed 2 some of your vegetables may be ready to be harvested. In bed 3 there are young vegetables growing nicely. In bed 4 the seeds are starting to germinate.

This is also the ideal way of planting vegetables in a community or school garden project. Initially it requires a lot of work to build the beds, but thereafter a minimum of labour is required.

This vegetable garden is at the MUCPP Health Clinic in Mangaung where vegetables have been grown successfully for a couple of years.

Description: Service Learning Keywords: growing vegetables, food gardens, door-sized beds, organic matter

Description: Service Learning Keywords: trenchbeds

Description: Service Learning Keywords: growing vegetables, food gardens, trench-beds, raised beds, MUCPP Community Health Centre,

The instructions for building a trenchbed can be downloaded for free:

The complete guide Growing Vegetables: A comprehensive guide on how to establish maintain and manage a vegetable garden (on CD) can be obtained from


Growing vegetables in Containers or Circles according to the Lasagne Method

The lasagne method implies the building of vegetable beds by adding various layers of organic material on top of each other so that it can react as a sponge. Any container can be used for lasagne vegetable gardens, of which old tyres are an excellent option.

Planting your own Vegetables according to the Lasagne Method
Prof. Gerrit van Tonder & Dora du Plessis

Although only available in Afrikaans, this document is full of pictures which will show you the steps on how to build your lasagne vegetable bed. This is more or less the same method followed when filling the trench-beds with organic matter.

Description: Service Learning Keywords: food gardens, growing vegetables, containers, lasagne method

Some Great Tips

Sweeten tomatoes by sprinkling baking soda on the soil around the plant (

Sowing Guide for Summer Rainfall Areas

Description: Service Learning Keywords: vegetables, sowing, guide, summer rainfall

Sowing Guide for Winter Rainfall Areas

Description: Service Learning Keywords: vegetables, sowing, winter rainfall

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