Some years back I decided I wanted to try my hand at growing at least some of my own fresh food. Undaunted by the fact that my postage stamp garden wasn’t likely to produce all that much, I decided to find a local food-growing course and hone my rather rudimentary skills.

This led me to Soil For Life, a fantastic organisation based in Constantia (behind the Constantia Waldorf School). Soil For Life works hard in the townships, teaching people how to create sustainable water-wise food gardens using whatever materials are at hand. Grow potatoes in layers of old tires, use empty milk bottles with holes poked in the lids to water little seedlings, mulch everything with strips of old newspaper – I’ve even seen old sinks and toilet bowls put to use!

A visit to their inspiring head office will lead you to their wonderful food garden, always full of vibrant fresh produce, all of it organic, unsprayed and positively bristling with goodness.

What better place to learn how to grow your own vegetables – and I thoroughly enjoyed every moment of the weekend-long Grow To Live course upon which I embarked that cold, wintry July.  Not only did I vastly improve my ability to keep things alive, I also began to look at soil, ‘pests’ and the whole cycle of growing very differently.

It didn’t matter how big your garden was – the idea behind the course is not to make you an urban farmer overnight, but to give you the foundation for growing something fresh and healthy at home, in whatever size containers you have, with whatever resources you have.

And, it’s great fun, with plenty of discussion and sociable lunching in between learning and planting.

Soil For Life runs these workshops once a month – and their next one is coming up this weekend: 12 and 13 May (8.30 am to 3.30 pm both days).

I can highly recommend the experience!  Here’s what you’ll learn:

Grow to Live  Weekend Food Gardening Workshop 12 and 13 May (8.30 am to 3.30 pm both days)

Join author of Grow to Live, Soil for Life’s Pat Featherstone on a comprehensive hands-on workshop where you learn to grow food naturally, working with the rhythm of the seasons and the biodiversity that exists in your garden.

In Pat’s engaging teaching style, you will learn to build your soil, prepare beds, how to choose and plant seedlings, pest control, harvesting and a lot more.

After the weekend you will have the knowledge and skills you need to grow your own organic produce.  Discover just how rewarding it is to pick a selection of dew fresh beans or baby greens for your salads, track the progress of your first pumpkin flower as it develops into an orange orb, packed with beta-carotene and taste the difference.

Cost: R750

Where: Soil for Life Training and Resource Centre: off Brounger Road Constantia

If you can’t spare a whole weekend, other (shorter) workshops offered by Soil For Life include their Healing Herbs workshop and two composting workshops (one specifically focused on worm farms).

Visit for more info, or call them on  (0)21 794 4982.

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