My idea is to start a media and educational campaign to stop spoilage, wastage of food and resources by adopting suburban small scale farming as a model for self sustainability. By protecting suburban farms and encouraging the establishment of more such farms, we solve many other problems including employment, poverty and hunger. It keeps the cost of food low and puts it within easy reach of consumers. Cape Town has had farms close to the City for centuries and it still serves the ever burgeoning population well.
With specific reference to the post Apartheid South African context in farming, the following problems exist in rural areas.
1. Workers receive inadequate remuneration
2. Workers cannot afford decent housing
3. The small-scale farmer has not been fully integrated into the farming community (previous farmers were all white) and so lack social cohesion.
4. The cost of transportation to market places is prohibitive
5. The cost of power supply has escalated to unsustainable proportions making this even more difficult.
The nature of self sustainability
To acquire land solely for the purpose of growing food in the traditional rural area is an insular approach and overlooks the prospect of what an integrated business culture can mean to a small scale farmer. Since small scale farmers have difficulty in becoming self sustainable when located in traditionally rural areas, far away from market places, unable to compete with their larger scale neighbors, growing the same produce, the idea is to decentralize rural small scale farmers and integrate them into suburban farming districts. This only in cases where Environmental Impact Studies recommends.
Within the context of small- scale urban farming communities, social cohesion among farmers and the farming community in general, can make the farm, the marketplace. This will remarkably reduce wastage and spoilage. Therefore it is necessary to consider the general public, food distributors, food retailers as prospective consumers and other farmers as well.
In this instance it is important to ask what services or products can your farm offer to other farmers in addition to the produce you are growing? As well as what social cohesion can your farm offer to the community besides employment, in addition to the produce you are growing?
Also in suburban farming areas workers are within easy reach of their own homes, relieving the farmer of having to provide accommodation.
The Phillippi Horticultural Area
The Phillippi Horticultural Area is a suburban small and large scale farming district which also serves as the regeneration zone for a huge underlying aquifer in Cape Town in South Africa. The area produces most of Cape Town’s food requirements and employs some 3000 full time workers. Currently the area has been selected for development despite Environmental Impact Studies advising to the contrary and the worst drought in the country in 30 years. Small scale farmers from Cape Town have joined together and started a lobby to stop the development. Despite a crippling drought throughout the country the PHA has continued to thrive due to its underground water reserves and is in a position to supply other parts of the country.