The History of the Indian market gardeners of Cliffdale (1977 – 1987)
This study will be examining the circumstances surrounding the founding of Cliffdale, and the tracing of the community up to the present. Particular attention will be paid to market gardening. Until 1930 little was known about the environmental impact of the construction of the Cliffdale railway station and its inhabitants. The arrival in the I930's of a small group of Indian settlers to Cliffdale marked the advent of the birth of a new community upon the hilly environment in the form of a demand for arable land and the pressure to provide food for themselves as well as for the market. These pressures increased because of the presence of the markets at Pietermaritzburg and Durban. A new relationship was introduced between the environment and its Indian inhabitants into Cliffdale in the form of private land tenure. The interaction with the environment was also affected by the technology at their disposal and by their use of family labour but, whereas the exploitation of game and forests was probably minimal,their impact upon the region's landscape, veld compositions and water resources was substantial. The process initiated by them assumed a much larger scale. Linked to the demand by the markets, and in the I980's, equipped with a widening range of western technology, the community embarked upon a much more intensive exploitation of the environment in the quest for viable excess produce. By 1980 they had established themselves as contributors to the economy of Natal. The project also highlights the numerous problems that are encountered by the market gardeners of Cliffdale. However, the progressive attitude of the Indians of Cliffdate has proved that they are capable and are able to persevere.