With the past years drought, food security is severely threatened and the need to find ways of alleviating the plight of many thousands of poor and unemployed people should be the concern of us all. The discovery that right on our doorstep many people are working to help themselves is a revelation and something Slow Food will try to highlight and assist where possible. Geoff’s initiative at the Sparrow Village farm has captured the imagination of both the media and hopefully the corporate world.
Slow Food Gardens – Johannesburg
In late February this year, the Johannesburg Convivium resolved to actively encourage the establishment of food gardens across the city and to identify existing food gardens as they were discovered. After some initial research into the prospects of the project during March, a Slow Food Garden sub committee was established in April.
Several groups of people from lower income communities have subsequently been identified including a University of Johannesburg founded group, Izindaba Zokudla, (Conversations about food), with whom we now have a working relationship.
We have to date made contact with ±200 urban food gardeners in Soweto and are in the process of measuring their activities against our Slow Food credo of good, clean and fair food. These gardeners will ultimately be added to a register of good clean and fair food producers with their gardens mapped and made available to potential new markets.
A Train the Trainers workshop has been held where 20 existing urban farmers were trained at Sparrow Farm on how to maximize the use of their available land and how best to encourage more people to grow their own food. Using our 10 000 Gardens in Africa Slow Food handbook, these urban farmers are working with a combined total of 100 new food gardeners and are assisting them to become viable micro organic food business entities. An additional 30 small-scale food growers have attended a food-growing course at Sparrow farm. (Sparrow Farm is managed by one of our members who grows food for ±150 residents on land made available to him on the grounds of an orphanage and hospice in Maraisburg).
Our sub committee’s work, as early as it is into the project, has received calls of interest to be included in this work from as far afield as Cape Town, Bloemfontein, Amamzimtoti, Limpopo and Mpumalanga. Two radio interviews have taken place and reporters have visited us from The Star and Farmers Weekly with the promise of published stories soon.
Through interest shown from areas outside of Johannesburg we expect to be in a position to have at least 350 gardens mapped in greater Johannesburg and a total of as many as 1000 around the country by spring this year. If you have a Slow Food garden or know of someone who does please get in touch with us so we can be sure to include it on our map.
Your Slow Food Johannesburg Food Gardens sub committee includes; Geoff Green, Brian Dick, Caroline McCann, Melissa de Billot, Angus Campbell and Naude Malan, Angus and Naude from UJ.