Abalimi Bezekhaya – Cape Town’s Green Revolution

From Topos recognition for the work of our local urban farmers

To mark the 20th anniversary of Topos, the editors have assigned two Special Recognitions to two very different kinds of initiatives. Together they both mark the broad field in which we operate. One is recognition of the Norwegian Tourist Routes (to be explained in more detail via our blog soon). The other recognition goes to Abalimi Bezekhaya – a successful self-help project initiated by the residents of the Cape Flat Townships in Cape Town.

We are Abalimi. We are the Farmers. from Abalimi Bezekhaya on Vimeo.

Known as the “Eastern Cape on Cape Town’s doorstep”, the Cape Flats townships (around Cape Town) are populated largely by economic refugees from the previous apartheid homelands of the Ciskei and Transkei. New arrivals into Cape Town are officially estimated to be 1200 per month and unemployment figures are in the region of 30-40%. Abalimi Bezekhaya (Farmers of Home) alleviates poverty and creates self-employment through gardening and micro-farming in the sandy soil of the Cape Flats.

Voluntary association Abalimi was founded in 1983. It is an urban agriculture and environmental action association, working to improve sustainable food production and environmental greening amongst the poor in Cape Town. In particular the project targets women who often represent whole families. “Abalimi” means ‘the farmers’ in isi-Xhosa, the predominant language of their target community. Abalimi supports individual households and groups to implement their own gardening and micro-farming projects. This includes between approx. 2500 home based vegetable gardens and 70-100 community group projects (school gardens, community allotment gardens, communal gardens) per annum. It runs two non-profit nursery projects in Nyanga and Khayelitsha. Called People’s Garden Centres, they supply free advice, information and subsidised gardening inputs such as trees, groundcovers, soil improvers (e.g. manure), seed, seedlings, basic tools, windbreaks and safe pest control remedies.

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