Gerald Bezuidenhout, 66, established the garden on the school grounds. Photo: Jack Lestrade/Daily Voice
In the heart of Wesbank is a green oasis that has become a shining beacon of hope for school children and their parents.

A community garden at Rainbow Primary School in the area is being used to feed hundreds of people every day, in a community ravaged by poverty and gang violence.

The man with the green fingers, Gerald Bezuidenhout, 66, established the garden on the school grounds in the last year and it has since blossomed into a 20 square metre mini farm, whose fruits or vegetables, in this case feed 250 school kids each day, and 600 people from the community per week.

Photo: Jack Lestrade/Daily Voice

“We started the garden last year and it took us two months to fix it up. In January this year, we started planting the seeds. Gardening is my hobby and I have been doing it since I was young.

“I am from Stellenbosch and I used to garden on the farms. I started with grapes and since I’ve moved here, I started my own farming and the uniqueness here is me trying something new,” Gerald says proudly.

The lush garden is structured like a maze, partitioned by beautiful stones, and its vegetables flourish with as much pride as its nurturer.

The garden currently produces spinach, lettuce, baby marrows, beetroot, carrots, onions and brinjals, as well as chillies and herbs.

Principal Brent Bruintjies. Photo: Jack Lestrade/Daily Voice

Gerald also makes his own fertiliser, with fallen leaves, skille from the vegetables and water.

He says he lets the extracts and nutrients mix and soak for a week before spraying it across the vegetables and herbs.

And, he says, although the area is rife with criminal elements, the garden has never been vandalised.

“We have no problems with vandalism in any way. I am here every day God gives me. This is my hobby. I also have a soft spot for children being neglected as I have never met my own parents,” Gerald says.

Principal Brent Bruintjies says the garden has brought positivity to the community.

“The two sides to this garden is pivotal. The school and community benefit from this. We have a vested interest from both sides to make this project work,” Bruintjies says.

Photo: Jack Lestrade/Daily Voice

The garden is soon to have an upgrade as they plan to extend it.

And the garden has become an educational activity for the children.

“Learners have class activities in the garden. They are taught to respect nature and food sources, and they also help clean the garden,” Bruintjies says.

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