Principal collects rain water for veggie garden



September 21, 2016
Principal collects rain water for veggie garden

Gardener Lawrence Matji with principal Gwynne Philander at Ned Doman High Schools garden for soup kitchen. CREDIT: Ayanda Ndamane

Ned Doman High School's principal collects 10 000 litres of rain to irrigate soup kitchen garden.

When this Athlone principal decided to grow his school’s own vegetable garden for their soup kitchen, he was met with a dilemma — how were they going to pay the huge water bill?

But Ned Doman High School palie Gwynne Philander and his innovative gardener Lawrence Matji, 56, came up with a solution — they would use rain to water their garden, and it wouldn’t cost them a cent.

So for the past three months, they’ve been collecting water in two huge 10 000 litre drums.

The new garden only has lettuce and mustard seed plantjies for now, but they hope to expand soon.

Their next mission is to use the rain water as a low-cost sewerage system.

Philander says his 500 pupils use over 15 000 litres of water a week just for flushing the toilet, and this would be a good way for the school to save even more money.

The water is decanted into wheelie bins and crates, and placed all over the school to water the plants, flowers and food garden.

Lawrence hopes to educate the general public about water saving.

“You can tell someone something but it is more beneficial showing them what you are doing and why,” he explains.

“When the rain season began, I started storing the water in the huge drums which were full and overflowing.

“Next I had to use large crates and line them out with plastic to catch the water.

“I am very conscious about saving water. I think people will think differently about water when they have to carry it to their homes as opposed to having to open a tap.

“The water that is being stored we use for the vegetable garden which takes away the cost also for the school.”

Principal Philander is keen on finding more uses for the free water.

“We have 500 pupils and imagine, 3 000 litres per day is being used when a toilet is being flushed,” he says.

“Rain water is free and if we can get to use that for our toilets imagine how much we can save.”

Lawrence previously featured in the Daily Voice when he made a two-metre wooden cross and went on a walking tour on the Cape Flats to spread the gospel.

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