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Wednesday, 19 September 2018

Fridge planters a blooming success

HARVEST TIME: Xolani Ntshinga, a third-year Civil Engineering student, started a vegetable garden using old fridges at Freedom Square Residence to alleviate poverty among his fellow students. HARVEST TIME: Xolani Ntshinga, a third-year Civil Engineering student, started a vegetable garden using old fridges at Freedom Square Residence to alleviate poverty among his fellow students.

A vegetable garden planted in old refrigerators is providing healthy meals to needy students while helping to clean residences at the same time. The Zondle Project, a brainchild of Green Campus Initiative (GCI) member Xolani Ntshinga, uses old refrigerators to grow vegetables in portable soil. Spinach, carrot, beetroot, onion, chillies, parsley and coriander are some of the fresh vegetables that can be harvested from the garden at Freedom Square Residence.

“We started the project around February with 10 fridges which were dumped by students in corridors (when they left),” says Xolani. “When using a container you use portable soil which is more fertile than Cape Town’s sandy soil.”
The third-year Civil Engineering student convinced other GCI members and friends to help him plant the seeds which he bought using his own pocket money. He first obtained permission from the House Parent at Freedom Square Residence, Zukiswa Nyalasa, who also prayed for the soil.

Xolani is mentored by Mvuyisi Mtshisazwe, a lab assistant in the Horticultural Sciences Department, who also donated soil and seedlings from the department. “I had approached the department for advice as I am interested in pursuing a business in crop production after working as an engineer for a few years.”

To date, Xolani has collected about 30 old refrigerators from some residences on the Bellville Campus to duplicate the project at Matthew Goniwe Residence.

He is calling on students to support the project by donating their labour as he would like to see it become part of other CPUT programmes such as Peer Help.

Nyalasa says the project to provide food to needy students has come a long way to get to where it is today. “We used to raise funds using money from our pockets to buy them groceries.”

She adds that last year, before the fridge project, they helped at least four students with groceries until the final exams were over. Student Development Officer Melani-Ann Hara says the university is proud of GCI achievements despite the little support they have.

“Through the gardening project GCI students, who are not even studying horticulture, are using their initiative to provide solutions to students’ hunger.”

Says Nyalasa: “We are looking at ways of reusing the old electronic equipment such as dumped computers, we want to create a clean environment where we can live and learn.”

Written by Kwanele Butana

Email: butanak@cput.ac.za