Monday, July 1, 2013

Oranjezicht City Farm

I visited the five month old Oranjezicht City Farm last weekend. I had heard it about it, and wanted to see.

Poised above what Capetonians call The City Bowl - on the cradled slopes of Table Mountain just above the city centre, it might just have the best views of any garden, anywhere. Ahead lies Table Bay and the blue layers of mountains in the distance. Behind looms the solid mass of Table Mountain.

The unusually well designed space (community gardens often look like a bomb went off in the middle of them) is not slashed up into individual plots - rather, the plan for the small farm allows for large beds which are tended communally, and whose produce is sold at the small and very interesting market held beside it every Saturday. Each bed is edged with herbs, some indigenous (I hope they plant more). The market also hosts local bakers and artisans and foragers. And some very good coffee. An aside: I have yet to find a New York farmers market that sells excellent coffee to go. But every Cape Town market does.


My new friend Loubie sells her num num (Carissa macrocarpa - a prickly, fruit-bearing shrub native to the Eastern Cape, and often used as a hedge in commercial landscaping) jellies and jams and cordial there, as well as bunches of indigenous herbs, and packets of local herb tea. We bought a bunch of fat farm carrots and a bowl of lumpy Cape lemons, whose juice is copious - they came from a tree around the corner, said the young girl who sold them to us.

This young garden is ambitious. It dreams big. The founders intend that the OZCF may serve as an organic model for other urban farms, all over South Africa, rising up from unused lots and untended land. This farm's stated goal is to "beautify, educate, and feed" the community - immediate, and farther field. It already provides training and focuses on young people and children.

Currently one of the immediate aims of the farm is raise money. They are an NGO operating on a shoestring budget. Right now the farm is raising money on Thundafund, which is South Africa's brand new version of Kickstarter. It is a secure way to donate online.

The funds will contribute towards: a worm farm (to turn waste into compost), education and awareness outreach, and the creation of a greenhouse on the premises. All the details are on the Thundafund site.

Americans, word up. The dollar-rand exchange rate right now means that every dollar you might give multiplies by tenfold into rands. That is a good thing (Thanks, Martha). And South Africans? Especially Capetonians - you will be investing in long term and local Good.

...and then...visit the garden. Because coming to Cape Town is never bad idea.

Here are some helpful links:

Oranjezicht City Farm website
The call for support - who, what, why
Oranjezicht City Farm Facebook page


  1. There's something about bare soil ready to be sown/planted - it's the anticipation!

    This is winter in SA? Assuming I'm right in that those are broad beans (fava beans) in full flower, they are looking better than mine in what is our full season! And don't get me started on those breathtaking views and a blue sky to drown in ....

  2. I like their sense of order. And the coffee? Yes. Betsy and I often wondered where is the coffee, especially in autumn? The answer of course is that you can't grow coffee here and Greenmarket generally sticks sticks sticks to that.

    I'll be selling at New Amsterdam and I hope they have coffee.

    1. ...ah.

      BUT the greenmarkets sell sell sell cookies and bread...


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