4 inspirational women that'll encourage you to dig gardening

12 October 2017 - 12:06 By Andrea Nagel
Nandi Dlepu, co-founder of BLOOM.
Nandi Dlepu, co-founder of BLOOM.
Image: Supplied

Flower gardens, greenhouses, water-wise patio planters, living walls, or community gardens where cabbages and cauliflowers are king - as the year hurtles to an end we all find ourselves in need of some green.

Four local women have caught the gardening bug in a big way. Though each of them is passionate about plants in their own particular manner, they're united in their love of gardens.


Dlepu is the co-founder of BLOOM, which hosts bi-monthly conversations in Johannesburg, New York and Harare.

''I have a real appreciation for gardens," says Dlepu. ''My mom had an impressive fruit and vegetable garden - corn, pumpkin, spinach, apricots."

That garden inspired her love of flowers and plants. ''For now I live in an apartment and have a Moroccan-inspired corner with lots of greenery."

''My favourite flowers are hydrangeas that grew in abundance in my father's garden," she says. ''Since his passing they've become a sentimental reminder of him and my childhood."

Dlepu started BLOOM as a conversational platform for women creatives and entrepreneurs. ''We now have complimentary workshops and interviews which we call Women in Bloom - monthly interviews with women in the creative industry who are undeniably in bloom."

Author Jane Griffiths.
Author Jane Griffiths.
Image: Supplied


Griffiths is a television producer, writer, artist and traveller who grows organic vegetables and herbs.

Her first book, Jane's Delicious Garden, has led to a vegetable revolution in South Africa. She's launched three additional books with a fourth coming out this month.

"In our 21st century of convenience and consumerism, we've become disconnected from nature - especially living in cities," she says.

"My organic vegetable garden is not only my oasis and sanctuary; it provides me with healthy organic vegetables and herbs. I encourage everyone to put down their phones and switch off the TV and go outside - into your garden or a friend's garden and enjoy reconnecting with nature."

Pick n Pay's Suzanne Ackerman.
Pick n Pay's Suzanne Ackerman.
Image: Supplied


At home Ackerman is a passionate gardener and at work is director of transformation at Pick n Pay. She also heads the Ackerman Foundation - committed to ensuring food sustainability.

Last month the foundation launched the ''Food to Waste" programme in Phillippi, Cape Town, that converts excess organic waste into high-grade compost through the naturally occurring digestive process in earthworms.

''I love gardens for their beauty, but also for their huge potential to help communities become more food-secure," she says.

''The wastage of excess food is a serious problem," says Ackerman. ''In a country where millions of people don't have enough food or access to sufficiently nutritious food, it's estimated that about 10 million tons of food are wasted each year. Pick n Pay is committed to reducing the amount of food that we waste by 20% by 2020."

 At Pick n Pay, Ackerman has developed a three-tiered waste reduction strategy:

  • Accurate demand planning, increased focus on maintaining the cold chain, improved product layout in stores and selling products close to sell-by date at a reduced price.
  • Over the past financial year, Pick n Pay donated more than 2,000 tons of food to Food Forward, which was used to create more than 20,000 meals every day.
  • She set up a partnership to develop a composting project, processing four tons of food waste every day. This is rich in energy and nutrients used to produce high-quality compost - and ultimately, wholesome fresh food.
Gugulethu gardener Lovedalia Tsewu.
Gugulethu gardener Lovedalia Tsewu.
Image: Supplied


Tsewu has developed a magnificent garden in Gugulethu which is not only feeding her family of 10, but also generates income through surplus vegetables she sells.

Her garden has grown from a small patch in her back yard to spread across the yard and down the passage along her house.

She's now started a garden at the local Educare Centre to ensure that the children have access to fresh vegetables.

She harvests spinach and carrots, with tomatoes, green peppers and brinjals next in line. ''The easiest crop for beginners is spinach," she says. ''But they should also try beetroot, carrots and spring onions."

Tsewu is proud about growing her own food, and saving money.

"I've taught myself to feed myself and my family, the kids in the Educare Centre, and I sell food to the community."


Garden Day, taking place on Sunday, October 15, encourages South Africans to celebrate their gardens no matter what the size, shape or form. The theme this year is flower crowns. 

In the lead-up to Garden Day get connected to a library of gardening information and direct access to skilled gardeners by downloading the free app Gardening With Babylonstoren

Then share your Garden Day celebrations on Instagram using the hashtag #gardenday.

For more info, see gardenday.co.za.

• This article was originally published in The Times.