You can grow your own food. And we can help!

Paying Tribute to Nelson Mandela

Dec 10, 2013

Excerpts from Mandela' autobiography, “Long Walk to Freedom:”

The Bible tells us that gardens preceded gardeners, but that was not the case at Pollsmoor, where I cultivated a garden that became one of my happiest diversions. It was my way of escaping from the monolithic concrete world that surrounded us. Within a few weeks of surveying all the empty space we had on the building’s roof and how it was bathed the whole day, I decided to start a garden and received permission to do so from the commanding officer.  

Each morning, I put on a straw hat and rough gloves and worked in the garden for two hours. Every Sunday, I would supply vegetables to the kitchen so that they could cook a special meal for the common-law prisoners. I also gave quite a lot of my harvest to the warders, who used to bring satchels to take away their fresh vegetables.   

A garden was one of the few things in prison that one could control. To plant a seed, watch it grow, to tend it and then harvest it, offered a simple but enduring satisfaction. The sense of being the custodian of this small patch of earth offered a taste of freedom.  

In some ways, I saw the garden as a metaphor for certain aspects of my life. A leader must also tend his garden; he, too, plants seeds, and then watches, cultivates, and harvests the results. Like the gardener, a leader must take responsibility for what he cultivates; he must mind his work, try to repel enemies, preserve what can be preserved, and eliminate what cannot succeed.


As you're probably well aware of.... the Sunrays in flowers project held a Mandela day this year to celebrate this great man. We planted alongside the Botanical Society of South Africa, the South African Biodiversity Institute, the South African Navy and 1500 excited learners of Sunray Primary school...and we will continue to plant in tribute of our great leader
I gathered a few plants I have in pots on my front stoop.....lemongrass, papaya, cinnamon, aloe, passionfruit, guava, some flowers, small rocks and a calabash along with a piece of rusty iron rod........symbol of his strength, tarragon to create a celebration of his life. I wrote his name with crayon colors and made a poster to head the garden. I will carry him with me always. Will re-read "A Long Walk To Freedom" for my next reading assignment.

Add comment

Log in or register to post comments



Join our e-list to stay in touch





About us:

KGI is a nonprofit community of over 30,000 people who are growing some of our own food and helping others to do the same.  

Join our mailing list:


Connect with us:

Contact us:

Kitchen Gardeners International
3 Powderhorn Drive,
Scarborough, ME, 04074, USA
(207) 956-0606