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The City of Cape Town’s Mayoral Committee Member for Utility Services, Councillor Ernest Sonnenberg, took to the streets today to deliver the first of 5 000 home-composting containers that the City is providing free of charge to interested residents. The residents who the councillor visited were excited at the prospects for their gardens.

Councillor Sonnenberg celebrated Earth Day today, 22 April 2016, by delivering home-composting units to homeowners who successfully applied for them earlier this month.

The first delivery of the day was made to Mrs Agnes Mayi, a Khayelitsha resident and grandmother of two young orphans. Agnes is unemployed and feeds her grandchildren with vegetables that she grows in her garden, so quality compost is crucial to create a nutrient-rich ground in which they can grow. The peels and offcuts from the mielies, potatoes, tomatoes, green beans, cabbage and spinach that she plants provide the same scraps that go back into the compost to grow more vegetables. Up until now, she has been using a bucket but has struggled with leaks and cracks.‘I am very excited to get this container. This year I am planning to grow my garden and plant more things. I would like to start growing lettuce,’ said Mrs Mayi.

On occasion, Mrs Mayi has found herself with a surplus of vegetables, and at these times she has been able to sell her produce to her neighbours, providing a small bit of extra income.

Although she has only been practising home-composting since 2014, through trial and error she has learned what works and what doesn’t.

‘Bones and fat do not work for this, but newspaper is very good because it is so absorbent,’ said Mrs Mayi.

Mr John Scholtz, a grandfather of three and long-time Mitchells Plain resident, was urged by his wife to apply for a container after seeing the invitation to do so in the newspaper.

‘My wife is from Tulbagh and everybody in Tulbagh likes gardening. My brother built us some flower boxes for the front of the house, but the problem is finding the soil. Now she has big plans for expanding the garden,’ said Mr Scholtz.

Earlier this month, the City of Cape Town invited homeowners to apply for one of 5 000 free home-composting containers, as part of its latest step towards becoming a zero-waste society. Each set includes a home-composting container (either 150 L or 250 L), a 2-litre container for temporarily storing organic kitchen waste indoors before composting, along with all the necessary information to guide the resident in the process.

‘The benefits of home-composting are obvious. Not only are there savings to be made by residents who generate their own compost and potentially start their own food garden like Mrs Mayi, but it is hoped that the broader effort will slow the rate at which our existing landfill sites reach capacity. The City is constantly working to try and change the way people think about waste. So much of what is thrown into the bin and sent to landfill has value in some form or another.

‘I have been blown away by the enthusiasm with which this programme has been met. Although each of the 5 000 units available have now been assigned, residents must please not be too disappointed at this stage as there will be an additional 5 000 units available in the next phase of the roll-out in the new financial year. Please keep an eye on the City’s website for more information, including when the next phase begins and applications can be submitted,’ said Councillor Sonnenberg.

Councillor Sonnenberg reminded residents who have not yet applied for a home-composting container that they do not need to wait for a free container if they are keen to start benefiting from the practice.

‘Home-composting containers such as the ones the City is offering can be purchased at most garden centres. Also, composting does not necessarily require special tools and equipment, as anyone with a garden space can implement their own system either using a covered compost heap which is moistened from time to time, a trench method, or by improvising with an item like an old tyre. If you do not have a garden or the space for a compost heap, consider buying a worm compost system. They are neat, clean and safe for people and pets, and generate a rich compost and worm tea which, when diluted, makes a beautiful plant fertiliser,’ added Councillor Sonnenberg.

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