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Jonathan Ball

@ Sunday Times Books LIVE

Even Little Gardens can Make a Big Difference – Jane Griffiths Launches Jane’s Delicious Urban Gardening

Jane Griffiths

 
Jane’s Delicious Urban GardeningJane Griffiths recently launched Jane’s Delicious Urban Gardening in Cape Town with four wonderful events in three whirlwind days.

Griffiths kicked things off with lunch and a talk about the book, her fourth volume about growing your own edible plants. Later that day, she launched the book at Kalk Bay Books. The following day, Griffiths presented a talk on urban gardening at Starke Ayres Garden Centre. She rounded off her tour with a visit to the Oranjezicht City Farm on her final day in the Mother City.

At her lunch talk, Griffiths regaled guests with tales of her gardening adventures far and wide, and why she decided it was important to write Jane’s Delicious Urban Gardening. In many ways, the book is the story of Griffiths’ own garden in Johannesburg, which has been transformed from a English-style garden into a green, water-wise urban oasis over the past 22 years.

Busy Urbanites

Griffiths began with a discussion of South Africa’s current water crisis, saying the shortages experienced in cities throw the importance of natural resources into stark relief. What her book is about, she says, is helping “busy urbanites” understand their dependence on and responsibility towards natural resources on the little piece of earth they inhabit. Her challenge and motivation is: “How can we all do something to help preserve those resources, and help to grow more food within our urban spaces?”

Lawn Gives Way to Edibles

When Griffiths moved in to her home in Auckland Park, it had a “classic, English-style garden – lots of roses, lots of lawns, the big rectangular swimming pool with the chemicals”. Since then, she says, “most of the lawn has given way to edibles”. “Every year I expand a bit more of the garden out into the lawn. I’ve got herbs in every available spot – both medicinal and edible”. She also has two hens with whom she has “a wonderful symbiotic relationship” – they produce eggs and manure, and she feeds them “goggas” and seeds. Griffiths got tired “of needing a science degree to keep a pool clean,” so has ditched the toxic chemicals and figured out how to make hers “a fully functioning wetland-filtered pool”. She also has rainwater tanks that collect water and host vertical gardens.

Another Book

“I didn’t think I had another book in me,” Griffiths said. She wrote her first three books in the space of about four years. Her first began as what she thought was a film script, but later turned out to be a book. The first print-run of Jane’s Delicious Garden sold out two weeks after it was released. She shared some highlights from Jane’s Delicious Kitchen and Jane’s Delicious Herbs, which followed her debut, and the tips she learned about gardening and using her produce well along the way. Griffiths believed she was on a permanent break from writing books, but then she was commissioned to write an article about “urban farming” for a magazine last year. “At the end of writing the article, I suddenly could see an entire book,” she says. She knew the content, pictures and “everything that needed to go into it”.

Getting in Touch with Our Food

In the first two weeks of being on the shelves, more than 3 000 copies of Jane’s Delicious Urban Gardening were sold. The author said that this is very rewarding on a personal level because of all the hard work that goes into crafting a book like this. “My books are my passion,” she says. She started writing because she believed she needed to share the information in her head. “For me it is incredibly, incredibly exciting knowing that their our so many South Africans out there who want to get their hands on this information.” When Griffiths first started, this was a niche interest, but there has been an incredible shift towards “getting in touch with our food” worldwide.

Small Garden, Big Difference

Griffiths’ book is a beautiful, informative and inspiring guide. It contains everything you need (apart from what nature provides, of course) to start growing your own food and make a big difference with the plot of earth you live on, no matter how small it is.

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Erin Devenish (@ErinDevenish811) tweeted from the event using #livebooks:

 

 
Griffiths shared his gardening wisdom with an eager audience at Starke Ayres:

 

 
She was at the Oranjezicht City Farm Market Day to sign books and meet readers:

 

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