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April 09, 2013

Urban farming in Cape Town

Urban farming in Oranjezicht. Photo courtesy Katie de Klee

Population growth, rapid urbanisation, scarce food resources and environmental concerns have forced cities around the world to think about their future in innovative ways. 

A non-profit project in the Cape Town suburb of Oranjezicht is looking to address some of these concerns – by starting a farm in the city.

The Oranjezicht City Farm (OZCF) is a community of adults and young folk working together to engage in small-scale food production in the City Bowl of Cape Town. Their vision is to improve under-utilised public green spaces by creating demonstration gardens for hands-on community-wide food gardening education, thereby increasing access to fresh vegetables.

The land they've chosen is an old, unused bowling green, on the site of the original Oranjezicht farm, which was established in 1709.

The OZCF is a project that aims to celebrate local food and community, and hopes to use vegetable gardening as a tool for building social cohesion, developing skills, educating residents and their children about food and the environment, and promoting the re-imaging of under-utilised public green spaces in the city.

Planting began in November last year, and though nothing is quite ready for harvest yet, seedlings are in the ground and lemons and limes are ripening on the trees. 

The layout for the vegetable garden was inspired by Dutch East India Company iconography. Mark Stead of Derrick Integrated Communications, creative director of the OZCF, designed the OZCF logo, and Tanya de Villiers, a landscape architect, used the shape of the logo in the vegetable garden layout.

With initial funding from Madame Zingara, the organisers hope the farm will support itself in the future by selling the vegetables it grows, compost, seedlings, T-shirts and more, and operating a tearoom. However, the cost of the educational and outreach programmes will have to come from donations and funding.

Check out the slideshow below for more info:

The farm is open to the public Monday to Saturday from 07h00-16h00. Visitors and volunteers are welcome.

Urban farming – a growing trend

Urban farming is catching on in all sorts of interesting ways in Cape Town. The Oude Molen Eco Village in Pinelands is the site of organic vegetable gardens, beehives, a quaint cafe and organic shop. Stay a night at the Lighthouse Farm Lodge within the eco-village and enjoy the fresh produce!

The Mount Nelson Hotel uses vermiculture – that's worm farming to you and I – to create fertiliser and soil conditioner. All leftover scraps and organic matter from the Mount Nelson’s breakfast buffets, the popular daily Afternoon Tea spread and dinners are eaten and processed by the earthworm family. This end product, known as "worm tea", is extremely rich in nutrients and is used on the grounds of the Mount Nelson to help the plants grow. 

Over at Moyo at the V&A Waterfront, the restaurant is always looking to source fresh, sustainable ingredients – and what better way than to grow your own? Look out for its bright-green aquaponic lettuce, grown right at the souk. In aquaponics, aquaculture (raising aquatic animals in tanks – in this case tilapia fish) is combined with hydroponics (cultivating plants in water) to create a sustainable food production system.

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