Last Tuesday, husband, 2 kids, friend from CT and myself headed off to the CBD to see Durban’s very own Rooftop Garden – and – we were ALL blown away. The exact address: 77 Monty Naicker Street, close to the ICC. Entrance is free.
Off the main road and into the front door, through a passage with walls covered in informative posters and boards on the garden and other Durban City initiatives. This professional operation is known as the Priority Zone Garden and is an initiative set up over 4 years ago to aid in the beautification of the inner city. Through to the reception then taken to a waiting room. There we meet our informative tour guide Siyabonga.
Siyabonga talks us through the gardens. Our fist stop, a passage with Jo Jo tanks lining the pathway and a lush vertical garden wall. The Jo Jo’s harvest rainwater for the garden collected from the rooftop and from surrounding buildings. We walk through another passage with hanging baskets and a bamboo lined wall on which, humorously recycled shoes, are suspended. Inside these various shoes are all kinds of indigenous succulents. Hanging 2L coke bottles house ferns, grasses and strawberries.
Under the stairs live the worm farms. Scrap food is fed to the worms and all nutrients rich worm wee collected is fed to the plants. Also under the stairs is the garden nursery with baby plants being cultivated.
We climb the stairs and are met by the most unexpected site to be found in the center of Durban. Beautifully landscaped gardens, food landscaping, vegetable & herb tunnels. Broad beans, chili’s, peppers, cabbages, swiss chard, cauliflower, lettuce, aubergines, spring onions, strawberries, tomatoes & herbs to name a few. The effective back drop to all of this is a wall painted mural of the city streets lined with crop rows. There are benches with rest areas and even a life size chess board.
This garden ticks all the correct boxes.
1.Everything is grown organically.
2. Companion planting is used in the form of Marigolds inter planted to keep insects at bay.
3. Incredible use of an otherwise wasted space.
4. Recycling in the form of old tires, drums, shoes, 2L bottles, robots & even an old bus shelter.
5. Increasing the dwindling bee population with bee hives, and in return these bees pollinate the flowers.
6. Organic farm practices.
7. Jobs created through maintenance and sale of produce
8. A large portion of the produce is donated to charities & old age home in the vicinity
9. Solar panels generate all the electricity required to run all the rooftop operations with excess.
10. Meeting area, conference room and venue hire facilities available