From cooking to gardening, to teaching gardening courses, Joy Phala’s journey has been one that embraces continuous self-improvement.

TV shows like Master Chef inspired Phala to cook, which led to her passion for gardening because she started to grow her own organic herbs and vegetables.

“The food that came out of our garden was the best tasting food we’d had in a long time,” she recalls, “and I was hooked from then on”.

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Do it yourself

Phala runs Grow Organic, an urban gardening course to help “urbanites take advantage of their outdoor space by creating gardens that they love to eat from but also enjoy living in”.

It is a full-day course, with the first one being held this month. More are planned throughout the year.

Phala started this because she received many requests from garden enthusiasts via social media. “[They] wanted to learn how to garden for food without the use of chemical fertilisers and synthetic pesticides,” she says.

Attendees can learn more about important organic horticultural practices in building healthy soil and managing pests. “They will also learn how to create outdoor spaces that are both productive and beautiful through the use of vegetables, fruits, herbs and flowers.”

Phala hopes to educate people more about caring for soil and the environment at large, while still eating highly-nutritious food and maintaining a healthy lifestyle. But she also wants to show people that urban spaces can be used creatively.

READ: Stellenbosch University garden first in SA to receive international honour

Overcoming challenges

After the first course, Phala realised it could possibly be a six-month course. She felt that because it was condensed into eight hours, it was difficult to deliver everything she would have liked to in that limited time.

“We are now working on a strategy to divide the existing course in to a three-phase course with a fundamentals phase, intermediary phase and advanced phase so we can hone-in on the different elements of creating a beautiful and productive.”


It is often assumed that gardening is a pastime for those who have green fingers, or those who have big enough spaces for their plants. Phala says these are misconceptions. “I teach that it’s not about green fingers but a green consciousness and a willingness to learn what makes plants tick.”

The course also shows how to maximise small urban spaces and still create a productive, beautiful urban outdoor space.

For more information about the course, click here.