Qala Tala Project

Qala Tala that means to start green is a gardening project in the Free State.Thabo Olivier uses the resources available to him to grow healthy vegetables. His green methods include a sky garden that saves space on the ground and he uses old tyres to grow veggies in. He is training people living in rural areas to grow their veggies sustainably, despite limited resources.


Qala Tala promotes healthy living

The rural development and land reform deputy minister, Lechesa Tsenoli, has urged the communities of Mangaung and the surrounding areas to take a leaf out of the book of the Qala Tala greening project, which promotes sustainable living practices in the smallest of spaces.

Qala Tala is a pro-active social initiative based on collaboration that seeks to address core issues related to the creation of sustainable human settlement and poverty alleviation, through the establishment of 40 to 50 hanging and sky vegetable gardens.

The project was pioneered by Thabo Olivier in partnership with Centre for Development Support at the University of the Free State (UFS), Mangaung Metro Municipality (MMM) and national rural development and land reform department.

During his visit to the Qala Tala project in Bloemfontein, Tsenoli said the project seeks to maintain a balance between environmental cleanliness and poverty alleviation.
“It is an interesting demonstration on how to use a small space to your advantage and benefit in many ways.

It also promotes sustainable healthy living practices and ensures that nobody lives in a hungry environment because everyone can actually do this. I am very amazed with this project and believe that if community members can take notes and copy what has been done here, many lives can be changed for the better,” said Tsenoli.

Olivier told The Weekly that the hanging and sky-garden is built to fulfil the Qala Tala vision of sustainability, food security and also generating opportunities for employment and household income.
“With fresh and good quality food on the table, the garden will also promote the health of the family.

The size of the garden is relatively small but by producing fruit and vegetables on three levels we have managed to triple the area, thus tripling the amount of food to be produced and also drastically minimising the amount of water needed to sustain the garden.”

He said that the triple level garden is achieved by growing “runner” crops like pumpkins, gems, patty pans and baby marrows on a level two metre’s above the ground.

“This is called the sky-garden. Below this we have a hanging garden that is made up of plastic bottles and PVC piping that hangs below the sky garden. The crops grown here are the bush-beans, peppers, chillies, strawberries and cucumber.

“On ground level, we have the traditional garden made from car-tyres and cement blocks. Spinach, potatoes, cabbage, beetroot, carrots gems, radish, tomatoes and herbs are grown here,” said Olivier.

To ensure the maximum use of water, the watering of the garden takes place through a drip system that starts at the sky-garden, letting the excess water drip through to the hanging garden and then ultimately to the ground garden.

It is envisaged that the garden will produce more than five times the food required by a family of four, thus allowing the family to sell 80 percent of their crop to generate an income.

MMM deputy mayor, Connie Rampai, said it will be proper for the municipality to take the initiative further to the communities of Mangaung and encourage them to have this kind of garden.

“It will be important for residents of Mangaung and surrounding areas to start having this hanging and sky-garden in their yard because it will help them and also help us in saving water,” said Rampai.

The entire concept is said to be based on five pillars and they are; water and food security; sustainability, energy efficiency and recycling, and is entirely aimed at improving people’s lives.

Moreover, the Qala Tala project will upgrade informal settlements; build proto-type houses and activate existing suburban house activation.

For more information contact Councillor Thabo Olivier at