Urban agriculture is about more than just green spaces and vegetables. As a tool for creating change in our city, it can also help create jobs, play an important role in youth education and help to protect our urban environment.
On 30 August 2013, the Cape Town Partnership hosted a preliminary conversation around urban agriculture in Cape Town that drew together a range of urban growers, NGOs and representatives from the City of Cape Town. Although only the first in what is hoped to become a series of dialogues, the discussion did highlight both the importance of plant-based agriculture in the urban context and the many challenges it faces.
Speaking at the beginning of the discussion on behalf of Cape Town Partnership, Jodi Allemeier underlined the many ways that the growth of urban agriculture can benefit the wider themes of urban regeneration in the city. “Urban agriculture can have a positive impact on local economies through job creation and less ‘leakage’ from local economies. It can benefit our urban environment by helping to safeguard the quality of our air, soil and water so that it remains an environment in which agriculture can flourish, and it can have important social benefits through skills transfer and education. Urban agriculture is also important to the history and memorialisation of our city, since it plays an important part in the heritage of Cape Town.”
Echoing these thoughts, Stanley Visser of the City of Cape Town’s Economic and Human Development Unit, said: “Urban agriculture is as old as Cape Town itself, in fact, it is the reason for its existence. It is my firm belief that there is a place for everyone within urban agriculture in Cape Town.”
Stanley also took participants through the City of Cape Town’s draft urban agriculture action plan, giving participants the opportunity to discuss and give input into the policy and discuss the regulatory framework, production and awareness around urban agriculture at present, as well as the need for research, education and youth engagement in the future.
Common themes that emerged included the need to create greater awareness of the role of urban agriculture and food security in Cape Town, as well as greater engagement with local communities, government and the youth and better advocacy for urban agriculture as a movement rather than as disparate projects. The difficulties faced by local government departments in releasing land were recognised, and it was agreed that while research could not take a “one size fits all” approach, it would be beneficial to explore better ways to link producers with consumers, either through physical markets or by exploring new marketing models, so as to ensure a more resilient and holistic urban agriculture system in Cape Town.
Cape Town Partnership project manager Zarina Nteta concluded the discussion, saying: “We view ourselves as a fellow stakeholder in the urban agriculture conversation and look forward to continuing a multi-stakeholder discussion to start unpacking the challenges, possibilities and foundations for institutional collaboration amongst urban farmers. The conversation is ultimately about the importance of food and how we can effect more vital and healthier urban livelihoods.”
For more information about future discussions around urban agriculture, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Text: Ambre Nicolson. Image of workers packing carrots at Gorgon’s Farm in Philippi by Lisa Burnell.