Urban farming solution

Farm4Real aims to link up donors with those who need to farm in order to feed themselves. Your donation of a Farm4Real garden box can make a difference.


There isn't one of us that hasn't driven down streets in South Africa and seen unemployed persons sitting on the pavement, with their hand raised to show they are looking for work for the day. With our high unemployment rate, the sad reality is that for millions of people in South Africa, life is a tremendous struggle, and many people go to bed with empty stomachs.

The trend around the globe is for rural people to move into urban areas in pursuit of jobs and better lives. The sad reality of this is the outcome of poorer nutrition, as the result of limited space and resources within urban centers to accommodate production of food for oneself, despite the fact that many urban centers in South Africa are blessed with a really good climate, i.e. fantastic sunshine - a key ingredient of crop production.

The Farm4Real is initiative is trying to do just that. The story starts with a civil engineer in the USA who had a passion for gardening. His name was Mel Bartholomew. Sadly, he passed away earlier this year, however, his legacy will be sure to live on for many years to come. Mel looked at the way traditional vegetable gardening was being done, and saw many faults and ways to improve things. His solution was to design a completely new, simple yet highly effective way of doing things. The concept of Square Foot Gardening (SFG) was borne.

The aim of SFG is to assist with the planning and creation of a small but intensively planted vegetable garden. It results in a simple and orderly gardening system, from which it draws much of its appeal.

Farm4Real saw the value of the Square Foot Gardens, as a means of providing crop production to the poor and hungry - even in urban environments. The first challenge of course, is how does someone who is unemployed afford the basic materials used in a SFG, i.e. the wood for the raised bed, the compost and the seedlings. The second challenge is how the poor (often uneducated) get training and support to know what crops to plant during the different seasons, what crop spacing is to be used, etc. This is the purpose of the Farm4Real.

Farm4Real, being a donor and grant funded company, will donate the growing boxes to the poor and needy and provide basic training materials (in Zulu).

Farm4Real has managed two pilot projects to date, supported by funding received from the Innovation hub. The first was the deployment of 100 SFGs to the Kyalami Golf Course, and the second was the deployment of 50 SFGs to the Indyebo Primary School in Soweto.

The following YouTube links go on to provide 1) an introduction to Farm4Real, 2) the deployment of the boxes to Kyalami, and 3) the deployment of boxes to the Indyebo School.

1. Basic Intro - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cl0425pXGr4&t=14s 

2. Kyalami Golf Course - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UHqqvJh7_bE&t=38s

3. Indyebo School - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MFubaYmvziw&t=1s

Farm4Real now begins the process of knocking on doors of corporates and Government to ask for monetary assistance and grant funding to take things forward with other schools and golf courses. Without sponsorship, the Farm4Real initiative will simply die. After receiving many enquiries about the raised bed garden boxes, Farm4Real now sell boxes to the public, through agents. For details of the agents, or if you would like to become and agent, please contact Andrew@farm4real.com .

Our appeal is for South Africans to assist the Farm4Real initiative in any way they can. The initiative is transparent, auditable and value-bringing to the poor and needy.

The comments and opinions expressed in this article are those of Farm4Real.


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