An urban jungle will soon be sprouting on Wits main campus in the form of a rooftop garden, called the Wits Sky Garden, situated on top of the Matrix.
The Matrix was chosen for the project “because it’s perfect”, says Tiisetso Daniel Murray, a 4th year industrial engineering student.
“It’s a wonderfully open area exposed to fantastic amounts of sunlight. It’s got [access] to rain … and the area is looking for some improvement, it’s not the prettiest,” he jokes.
The added bonus about the 600 square metre space, he says, is that it has student access from the SRC offices.
Although Murray did not come up with the idea of changing the space into a roof garden, he has taken over managing the student aspect of it.
Other key members in getting the project off the ground are the Wits volunteer Programme and the Siyakhana Initiative for Ecological Health and Food Security.
Programme manager from Siyakhana, Moira Beery, says the findings from research conducted in 2011 on hunger and food insecurity at Wits showed that overall levels of hunger are low amongst Wits students. But there are pockets of significant hunger, particularly amongst students receiving financial aid and living off campus.
“The assistance available to needy students must be expanded, and a productive garden could contribute significantly to this.
In addition to providing food for hungry students, the garden will be a demonstration site and practical learning laboratory for productive and healthy urban environments,” says Beery.
Murray says they have no funding at the moment and everything comes to them either by donation or by picking up scrap and making it into something.
They are hoping to launch the garden with the help of the Absa graduates who, apart from helping build infrastructure, also contribute materials, says Karuna Singh from the Wits volunteer Programme.
Aside from growing fruit and vegetables for the needy, the overall vision for the garden is that it will improve Wits’ ecological footprint and offer a lush recreational space for Witsies.
Additional leadership comes from Engineers without Borders, the Biological Society, Animals, Plants and Environmental Sciences and the Engineering Faculty.