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Growing seeds and skills at RSCC and Elphin Lodge

Rand Aid’s Ron Smith Care Centre (RSCC) and Elphin Lodge retirement village have launched an exciting project to upskill employees while also enabling them to grow their own food.

RSCC and Elphin Lodge launched the Eden Veggie Garden Competition in mid-March for its domestic and care staff to learn how to grow vegetables and reap the rewards.

The project was inspired by RSCC’s sister Leanie Bessinger and sister Thili Madiba from RSCC’s Woodlands wing, after a discussion about the economy and the increasing price of food.

“Everything is becoming increasingly expensive, especially food.

“We were thinking of ways to help our staff, but also empower them. We came up with the idea of a veggie garden for each of our wings and for RSCC and Elphin Lodge’s domestic staff,” says Leanie.

Employees were given the choice to participate, and 90% were eager to take part.

“Each wing is responsible for its own garden, from planting the seeds to weeding.

“They take home the veggies they grow,” says Leanie.

Rand Aid provided each wing with a starter kit, consisting of a seedling tray and various seeds that are in season.

“I have not seen such joy and happiness among the staff in a very long time. They could not wait to get going. They are enthusiastic and busy in their gardens daily. They have drawn up rosters as to who does what.

“I do the garden route every day to check progress and see if they need help. I love seeing veggies grow. It’s extremely satisfying to plant a seed and end up with a product that you can eat,” says Leanie.

The staff’s enthusiasm has also spilt over to Rand Aid’s Inyoni Creek retirement village, which has also started a veggie garden.

So far, onions, spinach, cabbage, potatoes, beetroot, peas, beans, gem squash, carrots, lettuce and tomatoes have been planted in the gardens, which are located in RSCC’s grounds, close to their wings. Elphin’s garden is in the retirement village’s grounds.

RSCC’s Portia Ngobeni says she is excited to be able to grow a vegetable garden in the city, and it reminds her of home where she had her own garden. “We are grateful for the opportunity to plant veggies,” she says.

Residents are also enjoying the gardens and watching their progress, says Leanie. “They think it’s a wonderful idea.”

“A special thank you to Servest, which dug the gardens, and to Elphin Lodge’s manager Helen Petrie, who donated compost and gardening tools for each garden.

“Thanks also to our residents’ families who donated a huge number of seeds, plants, compost, potting soil and planters.”

The gardens will be judged by Leanie, matron Avril Maltman and Helen in mid-December.

Any donations of vegetable seeds, compost, seedling trays, pots, pavers and second-hand gardening tools will be appreciated. These can be dropped off at reception.

Catherine Mphahlele, Pertunia Moleoa and Lebo Mashale.

Leigh Kotze, Selina Shiviri, Tsepo Malatji and Dipuo Ledwaba.

Portia Ngobeni and Portia Tshayisa.

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