Did you say “organic”?

Let me start by explaining – Before moving to South Africa, I lived in Portland Oregon. That is Portland, land of all things natural. When the rest of the U.S. was busy buying dot.com stock and huge SUV’s, Oregonians were dabbling in alternative energy and pushing recycling. Recycling? Most were still trying to get a grip on Woody the Owl telling us to “Give a Hoot, Don’t pollute” by not throwing our candy wrappers on the ground. Available way before it was trendy were items that were “free-range”, “organic”, using methods that had the smallest “carbon-foot print” possible.

Then we moved… to Africa. South Africa is not exactly third world, however it’s thinking in 2004 was not exactly globally protective. I often got dirty looks when I hooted my car horn at the pick-up full of workers throwing their styrofoam lunch containers overboard.I admit, I abandoned for sometime my recycling habits as well as the energy spent in choosing my purchases according to environmental awareness, but even still missed the easy access to alternatives to the pre-packed, processed and steroid injected options available in the supermarkets.

Enter the big scare – my diagnosis – and my realization that my lazy lifestyle most likely contributed to my sickness. Voila! The motivation returned! Yes, it’s good for the planet, and it’s part of our being good stewards of all we have been so graciously given.. but the personal motivation got me off my backside at last.

South Africa does have one great advantage – the “supermarket” syndrome is fairly new. And this means we have Fruit and Veg markets, Butcheries and Bakeries who still specialize in what they do. So it is with this knowledge that I marched through my local “fruit and veg” on the hunt for what I thought would be not too difficult – organically grown veggies.

Alas, organic was not to be found, so in my “never say die” attitude, I decided I needed a garden. Problem? Yes.. I have no garden space… and where I do have beds, I have dogs – busy dogs, bored dogs…. naughty puppy dogs.


I do have however, one little corner of my property that is gated, and paved.. and this is where my little baby container garden was born. It’s by no means something that would make “Farmer Jones” proud, but for me… seeing it come to be has given me a sense of satisfaction that even finding the perfect Organic Farm couldn’t provide.

A work in progress, I already have bigger plans for next year including two raised beds and if I am really lucky to find someone to help, a vertical bed or two. And this year, I’m teaching Thuli, who helps me at home, to garden as well.

Only time will tell if the spinach, beets, beans and tomato grown will appeal to my veggie-hater son, but I am very pleased to say that I know where and how they were grown, and will be able to eat them without concern about what made them grow.



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