Instead of being angry that people were stealing his veggies‚ retired cop Johan Scott saw an opportunity to help people who needed something to eat.
As you drive towards a corner house in Heidelberg‚ about 45km south-east of Johannesburg‚ one is greeted by jalapenos‚ tomatoes‚ pumpkins‚ egg plants‚ and other variety of vegetables on the pavement. The garden was started by Scott‚ but not for the reason he first envisaged.
“Instead of getting angry‚ I realised that they are not stealing‚ they just need food. People need to eat. And since I can’t give them a job‚ the least I can do is share my vegetables with them‚” said Scott.
Everyone and anyone can pick fresh vegetables from this pavement garden for free‚ and take them home to enjoy with their loved ones.
Scott said that he hardly paid attention to who was picking the produce‚ but that he noticed it wasn’t just the poor.
“Even people driving big cars pass by and pick. It appeals to everyone‚” he said.
By doing his bit for humanity‚ Scott says he has reached a level of happiness with himself.
“It gives me a good feeling about myself. I love it. The best gift is to give‚” Scott said.
His ultimate gardening advice to those struggling with growing vegetables was that the plant needed love.
“Any vegetable or flower is like a human being. When you give it love‚ it loves you back‚” he said.
The garden is now growing. His neighbour has donated their pavement for him to plant on. He said he was also working on a way to get the community to take the initiative further.
Yumba Ndlovu picks veggies from the front garden of Johan Scott in Heidelberg, Gauteng on February 26 2018. Picture: Alaister Russell/The Sunday Times
When TimesLIVE visited the home‚ a mother of two‚ Yumba Ndlovu‚ came around to pick some vegetables. Though tomatoes were not yet ripe‚ she was happy to find green peas‚ green peppers and pumpkin.
She said her job hunting led her to something positive.
“I found out about this place two weeks back. I since came a few times to get vegetables. I was looking for a job and I bumped into this house. He is good to us; it’s better than nothing. I wish more people were like this family‚ they are kind to people. Mostly I come for tomatoes and green peppers‚” Ndlovu said.
Scott has become a social media sensation with people praising him as a true humanitarian.
Commenting on a Facebook post about Scott which has been shared more than 15‚000 times‚ Juwariyya Ravat described him as “a true South African” and “a humanitarian” .
“I hope that many of us can learn by his act of kindness and love‚” she said.
Furlyn Cloete wrote: “Be the change you want to see in the world. As South Africans we should look at this story as a form of inspiration and strive to be better as a people.”