Green Suspense: 365ideas4change Number 2

High density urban living is a reality in most countries. Space for gardens, let alone vegetables, is often severely limited. So when you can’t go wide, go tall!

A friend of mine brought an amazing garden salad to a function. We were all impressed by the variety of colours, tastes and leaves. Vertical gardens are hardly new, but she shared her special twist on how she gets so many veggies in a small space – sewage pipes! Before you balk, let me reassure you that they are brand new, straight from the corner plumber.

One of the challenges of vertical gardens is that the containers are often biodegradable – wood, mesh or hemp baskets all rot. Which is a good thing in one way, but can be limiting if you live in an area with a wide range of temperatures, and lots of rain, as this accelerates the rotting. Plastic sewage pipes have the advantage of lasting a long time, and being recyclable. I fully acknowledge that they are made from by-products of a seriously problematic industry – i.e. fossil fuel production, but there’s always many ways to view an issue. So it may not be “ideal” or “perfect”, or even politically correct, but in a country with real urban pressure, and a lot of people in poverty – as we face in South Africa – the cost-effectiveness and longevity are important factors, as is food security. And it needn’t be sewage pipes – they just happen to be a useful diameter.

Construction is also really easy – as you’ll see in the attached pictures, this family has achieved a lot with very little effort. No fancy baskets needing construction, just a couple of bits of bent wire and suspenders for the pipes.

Suspended veges3Suspended veges4Wouldn’t an inner-city wall look amazing covered like this, maintained and the produce shared by the people living nearby? Or perhaps an artist or landscaper or architect could do something on a larger-scale in an appropriate factory or office space: it could be a socially responsible industrial-art feature piece? Talk about a different view on ‘take-home’ employee benefits!

Feeding ourselves straight out of our own easy to maintain gardens, no packaging to throw away, and we can share with our neighbours. Who could share with their neighbours, and their neighbours could do the same, and their neighbours…. ..


About Julie Courtnage

With training in environmental science, I facilitate 'naked conversations' about sustainable wellbeing. Using facilitation techniques, systems thinking, art, music, writing, movement and photography, we explore the active creation of our uniqueness - personal and collective, as individuals, organisations and society - and our relationships with others, with sustainable wellbeing, and with genuine happiness. This journey of creation is a journey of Love. And fun.
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