The HandPicked CityFarm has been launched this week at the Kenilworth Centre, and is running a skills development programme as part of the initiative.
The idea of the programme is that young unemployed people from Langa will be able to come to the shopping centre’s rooftop and learn how to set up their own urban farms.
Redefine Properties, which owns the centre, donated the rooftop space specifically for the Mr Price Foundation’s HandPicked programme.
HandPicked aims to teach agricultural skills to young people, and is funded by farm produce. The programme will teach two participants per month, meaning that after a year, 24 young people will be newly educated in this field.
The goal is that when the programme finishes, the participants will be given resources to go with their new skills that will assist them in setting up their own urban farms.
The participants can then generate their own income from selling produce.
Fresh Life Produce and the SA Urban Food & Farming Trust/Oranjezicht City Farm, organisations that value and promote sustainable farming practices, are also partnering on the project,
The urban farm will focus on sustainability and has plans to slot smoothly into the community’s systems.
Fresh produce will be donated from the farm to NGOs every month, and restaurants in the centre will be able to purchase vegetables from the farm.
The produce will be sold through a kiosk or pop-up store inside the centre, and the farm has offtake agreements with iChilli le Langa, meaning the business will use the farm’s produce, like chillies, for their own products.
In line with the partners’ values, the urban farm will take a mindful approach using practices such as vertical farming, which aims to use only small amounts of water and land to farm.
The farms use African Growers, which is essentially a vertical system in which growing pods are stacked on top of each other, using less land space. The pods are also pest-resilient.
Anelisa Keke, the chief sustainability officer at Redefine, expressed the team’s belief that the project will act as an example of how retail properties can prioritise community and the environment.
Redefine’s Chief Operations Officer, Leon Kok, echoed that the farm’s purpose is “to create and manage spaces in a way that changes lives.”
“This rooftop farm is a great example of those values in action and will, among other benefits, create employment opportunities through the daily operation of the project, ensuring the effective management of the produce and space.”