Redefine Properties earlier today, 23 November, unveiled its first retail urban rooftop farm on top of the Kenilworth Centre in Cape Town. Its HandPicked CityFarm initiative is being developed in partnership with the Mr Price Foundation’s HandPicked programme.

Redefine Properties will donate use of the space to the programme, and income generated by the farm will be used to fund the project. Other key partners include Fresh Life Produce and SA Urban Food & Farming Trust/Oranjezicht City Farm.

Says Anelisa Keke, chief sustainability officer at Redefine: “Our aim is to create a meaningful and sustainable long-term solution to tackle youth unemployment and, in turn, food security in our immediate community/catchment area. We believe this project will set an example for how landlords can change the way retail properties are managed and developed so that lives, communities and the environment are impacted positively.”

Skills development programme

Through the partnership with the HandPicked programme, its training partner SA Urban Food & Farming Trust/Oranjezicht City Farm, and the Black City Farm Project based in Langa, the project will include a skills development programme that educates youth on how to develop an agricultural business in an urban environment.

Project beneficiaries will be sourced from the Langa community. Two unemployed young people from Langa will be upskilled each month and 24 young people over a 12-month period. Thereafter they will be provided with the resources to set up and run their own productive entrepreneurial urban farms in their backyards.

Revenue generation

iChilli le Langa will utilise the offtake of certain crops, such as chillies, in the production of its sauce range, creating an opportunity for the homegrowers to generate revenue and move from consumers to producers.

The project also plans to donate fresh produce to two to three local NGOs each month, or a minimum of 10 per year. Mall restaurants will be able to purchase fresh vegetables directly from the farm, saving the considerable expense of transport fees. A kiosk or pop-store (as available) in the mall will be allocated to sell produce to customers in order to generate additional income for the farm.

Implementing the African Grower system

The HandPicked CityFarm will utilise a South African-developed system called the African Grower. This modular vertical garden model consists of multiple growing pods stacked on top of one another. The towers are suspended, making it pest-resilient, and coconut coir is used as a water-efficient growing medium.

The system promotes increased production with each African Grower tower housing between 16 and 24 plants, occupying the same footprint as that of a person standing. This gives the project the advantage of increased production in a small space using vertical growing practices.

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