Food in the City part 1: A tale of two gardens in Cape Town, South Africa
Micro-farmers benefit from improved health, renewed dignity and social connectedness, as well as vital additional income
By Steven Bland
February 6, 2013
Up in the hills of Oranjezicht, something is stirring. What strikes you at first is the size. At 2450sq.m including 700-800sq.m of growing beds, this is no back garden. “In summer, we’re going to need at least 4,000 litres a day”, says Mario, the ex-organic farmer who’s tasked with turning this ex-bowling green into an urban oasis of efficient organic production. “It’s got to be quality, organic produce” he tells me. He is a man with a mission: to create an economically viable urban farm in the heart of Cape Town.
Mario is part of a growing trend: urban food growing is in vogue. More and more people are turning their hand to growing vegetables. For some, it’s a reaction against the environmental impacts of industrialised commercial agriculture. A chance to reconnect with nature, teach kids about where their food comes from, and reduce food miles. For others, it’s more than a lifestyle choice. With over half of the world’s population now calling urban areas home, the city has become a new battleground for food poverty and malnourishment. 80% of households in Ocean View, Phillippi and Khayelitsha surveyed by the African Food Security Urban Network were found to be either severely or moderately food insecure.