Green Fingers and Sandy Toes

Date: 2nd Oct 2019
Written by: Blue Betty

Green Fingers and Sandy Toes

I have been wanting to share Candy’s story with you for a while now. My sister-in-law has inspired me to keep walking the Blue Betty journey and challenges my way of conventional thinking every day.

A little about Candice Harding

A mom of 3 beautiful children (excluding her dogs and cats), wife, teacher, homeschooler, ocean-lover, eco-activist and not to mention she just won the Amanzimtoti Community Award for her involvement in Clean Surf Project.

What I was interested in was sharing her two-year zero waste journey and gardening tips. Yes, she grows her own vegetables and built an aquaponics garden from scratch in her back yard (insert jaw drop emoji here).

The two-year zero waste journey

Candy and her family have always had a deep love for the ocean. It took one morning, and life changed as the Harding family knew it. Candy opened herself up to the reality of our impact on the oceans, the connectiveness of it all. The impact of various polluted sources streaming into the sea, the transfer of plastics to our food chain and the painful suffering of our marine life. In that instant, it all changed.

Start with one thing

The first change in Candy’s journey was to stop buying any form of plastic. At first it was hard as grocery stops took on a whole new level of planning, especially when sourcing fresh fruit and vegetables. Candy now makes a bi-weekly trip out to a farm in the midlands to locally source her grain fed meat, farm fresh milk and other needs. Now that’s commitment.

Experiment and surprise yourself

One thing about Candy is that she loves to experiment and more often than not, she is pleasantly surprised. Experimenting with aquaponics was something her husband John suggested, and boy did it escalate from there. Starting with a small fish tank in the kitchen growing a few herbs and reaping the rewards, so the idea of a full aquaponics vegetable garden came to life.

The image of Candy in her bikini with a jack hammer in hand has been imprinted in my memory forever. John was away and Candy decided that today was the day. She rented a jack hammer and began working in the back yard, turning her dream into reality. Over the year materials for the garden have been sourced from the dump, roadside and rummaging through friends unwanted items. Candy has managed to source gutters, pipes and the tanks. Everything was re-used except the pump which they had to buy new.

Today, Candy grows all her own vegetables and fruit. Although she has had to purchase a few seedlings, her garden mostly consists of offcuts.

Learn more about Aquaponics and Candy’s setup here

With the aquaponics garden a success, Candy has also turned to other sustainable sources. She started a compost heap to make her own fertilizer and experimented with a worm farm. Did you know that worm tea is one of the best forms of nutrition for your plants and it’s free! Learn how to make your own worm farm here

Candy has definitely seen the positive impact on her family from education to cost savings. Firstly, her children are constantly engaged and involved in the vegetable garden and are now each responsible for a section. Together the family have learnt about various plant and vegetable varieties, insects and general farming do’s and dont’s. Their knowledge has been imparted at every opportunity and continues to grow.

Secondly a significant benefit has been the monthly cost saving on groceries. Every month the family have an abundance of food and have been seen giving fruit away to friends and family. Nothing goes to waste, even the monkeys get their pick of the crop.

The biggest impact has been Candy’s conscious decision to reduce her impact on the ocean. Water is never wasted but reused. Extra food goes into the compost heap along with raked leaves and grass to make fertilizer and most importantly plastic in any shape or form has been removed all together from their lives.

Humble beginnings

We can learn a lot from Candy and her family. Changes can be made relatively quickly with a significant impact and at a very little cost. You don’t need a big garden, a fish tank at home will do or a little vegie garden growing on your porch. In Candy’s words “don’t hesitate, just begin with any change and it will have a ripple affect amongst your family and others”.

Note – we will be featuring Candy’s zero waste tips each month. Watch this space.

Fast Facts

  • You can grow a Prickly Pear from an offcut. The fruit can be eaten and tastes like a pear. (YUM)
  • little Neem oil with a liter of water and spray on plants to remove mielie bugs. Don’t use pesticides as this will kill your fish.
  • Pineapples can be grown from an offcut. Snap the top leaves of the pineapple off, set it aside in a jar with water and watch… for two years!
  • Dilute a little Neem oil with a liter of water and spray on plants to remove mielie bugs. Don’t use pesticides as this will kill your fish.

Jade Harding
Blue Betty Life

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