Company's Garden

Cape Town, South Africa

Company's Garden

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The Company's Garden is the oldest garden in South Africa, a park and heritage site located in central Cape Town. The garden was originally created in the 1650s by the region's first European settlers and provided fertile ground to grow fresh produce to replenish ships rounding the Cape. It is watered from the Molteno Dam, which uses water from the springs on the lower slopes of Table Mountain.

The Dutch East India Company established the garden in Cape Town for the purpose of providing fresh vegetables to the settlement as well as passing ships. Master gardener and free burgher Hendrik Boom prepared the first ground for sowing of seed on 29 April 1652. The settlers sowed different kinds of seeds and kept record thereof each day. Through trial and error they managed to compile a calendar which they used for the sowing and harvesting throughout the year. At first they grew salad herbs, peas, large beans, radish, beet, spinach, wheat, cabbage, asparagus and turnips among others. They caught fish, trapped wild animals and traded with the Khoisan for cattle and sheep with copper and tobacco. By 1653 the garden allowed the settlers to become self sustainable throughout the year. As the settlement grew, additional farming land was prepared at Rondebosch in 1656. By 1658 nearly every garden plant of Europe and India was already cultivated in the garden, though potatoes and maize were not yet introduced.

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