We are far from the only urban farm in Cape Town, and are by no means the most experienced or best resourced. However, we attract a lot of interest due to our Market Day and the beautiful heritage site on which we are fortunate to have our farm. We are often asked whether we can help others get an urban farm going in their neighbourhood, or help out in other ways. We love being asked, but before you contact us, please consider the following:
- We are a group of volunteers giving most of our time to OZCF when not working our ‘day jobs’ or spending time with families or sleeping. Requests to help are lovely to receive, but realistically we’re severely limited in the extent of help we can give and the number of projects we might be able to assist.
- What we’ve learned from creating and running OZCF may not be applicable to other projects. We are a very small farm on a provincial heritage site that is adjacent to a park, located in a fairly affluent leafy suburb. Our main focus is on education, not on addressing issues of hunger or food security. We have been nurtured under the wing of a vibrant and well-respected neighbourhood watch. We farm in a Cape Town climate half way up a mountain.
- We’ve been very fortunate in our level of support, particularly with in-kind contributions from surveyors, landscape architects, civil engineers, graphic designers, compost producers, photographers, writers, teachers, documentary film makers, chartered accountants, and on and on. We estimate more than R1 million in cash and contributions went into our first year of activity alone, which meant we were able to grow and develop much more quickly than we anticipated when starting out. This is probably not a realistic model to use for setting expectations for others.
Having said that, here are a few check list items you should consider regarding your own project, and before you contact us asking for help:
- Do you have formal or official access to a viable piece of land with permission to farm on it? If security is a concern, is it secure, or are you confident you can make it so?
- Do you have a committed group of volunteers ready to take on the project, organised in some formal legal structure (even if under the auspices of a rate payers’ association, church, environmental NGO, school, whatever)?
- Do you have an experienced farmer or food gardener ready to work with you or at least advise you?
- Do you have a basic level of start-up financing, even if just to pay for some tools, seeds, hats, irrigation, compost, mulch, whatever is needed to get things going and growing?
- Do you have a business plan, including details such as who is involved, what your mission and vision are, who will work on the farm, what you will do with the produce, how many jobs will you create, what will the design look like, will you be a non profit, who will sit on the board, how will you govern the organisation, will you conduct education programmes, will you have a market, how will you involve the community, what training will you offer, how will you fund the ongoing activities of the farm, etc.?
We would love to be able to assist everyone who aspires to start a farm in their community, and we have our own dreams of being able to do just that, but we are not there yet. We want to help as we can, but our capacity is limited and we have no funds to offer. So please, let us know what you are wanting to do and let’s work together where and as possible. We will do what we can to help, but that may be very little at present.
Don’t let us dissuade you in the least from creating your own farm, in fact we hope through our example to inspire you with what might be possible. In truth, you don’t need our help at all in order to achieve great things in your community.
Your support and understanding are so appreciated. And best of luck!