Photo credit: Journal of a greenie – https://journalofagreenie.files.wordpress.com/2015/12/adelgroenewald-harvest-of-hope-12.jpg
Sustainable agriculture in the townships of Cape Town
It’s mid-morning at Nyanga Junction, the largest train station in this part of the Cape Flats. Even in a seemingly quiet time, the yellow-and-grey Metrorail trains crawl by noisily every few minutes. The streets surrounding the station are a bustle of people, dogs and informal traders.
Just across the road, behind a high fence, Sibongile Sityebi is patiently working cow manure into his vegetable garden. He is unfazed by the noise beyond the fence or the schoolchildren playing on the grounds where his garden is located.
Strolling through, you wouldn’t think you’re in one of Cape Town’s poorest areas. The cabbages are plump and have big, strong leaves. The sweet-potato stems rise proudly from the soil and neat paths create a colourful grid that stretches to the far end of the school grounds.
Two women are helping in the garden. They started it in the first place, but they have allowed Sibongile to manage the garden. This means a great deal in the community and shows that he can be trusted. They calmly push the wheelbarrows back and forth, filling up on more fertilizer (cattle manure is the best, most natural fertilizer a farm can ask for), watering the plants and clearing garden waste.
This garden is a small oasis in a frantic, dense township. Yet it’s more than a place to find peace in the chaos. It’s a livelihood. The carrots, spinach and squash farmed here not only feed the three families who are involved, but it also allows them enough of an income to afford their basic needs each month. Most of the vegetables grown here are sold to outside parties.
Read the full article: Journal of a greenie
Author: Willem Van Cotthem
Honorary Professor of Botany, University of Ghent (Belgium). Scientific Consultant for Desertification and Sustainable Development. View all posts by Willem Van Cotthem