28 March 2013

South Africa: Oranjezicht City Farm Reinstated

Cape Town's Oranjezicht farm was established in 1709 and grew fresh fruit and vegetables to supply the Castle of Good Hope and passing ships. Now, where part of the old farm used to lie, on the site of an unused bowling green, a new city farm is laying down its roots.

The idea for the Oranjezicht City Farm (OZCF) first began to germinate in 2009.

"Many people had the same idea," said Sheryl Ozinsky, one of the heads of the organising team for the OZCF, "The Oranjezicht Higgovale Neighbourhood Watch, The Oranjezicht Heritage Society and many individuals in the community - it is the site of the original Oranjezicht farm, so it was clear that we had to reinstate the land back to its original purpose."

Planting began in November last year, and though nothing is quite ready yet for harvest, seedlings are in the ground and lemons and limes are ripening on the trees. The OZCF is a project that will celebrate local food and community, and hopes to use vegetable gardening as a tool for building social cohesion, develop skills, educate residents and their children about food and the environment, and promote the reimaging of under-utilised public green spaces in the city.

Layout inspired by Dutch East India Company iconography

The layout for the vegetable garden was inspired by Dutch East India Company iconography, says Ozinsky. Mark Stead of Derrick Integrated Communications, creative director of the OZCF, designed the OZCF logo, and Tanya de Villiers, a Landscape architect, used the shape of the logo in the layout.

Some Table Mountain sandstone boulders have also been used in the design too - inspired by the paths in Homestead Park, which sits opposite the OZCF. The initial start-up funding of R100k was secured from the Madame Zingara group.

"I approached Madame Zingara," said Ozinsky, "They also want to assist with training of farmers and they will purchase some of the produce at market prices." Ozinsky has had a long relationship with Madame Zingara, and when she took them the plans for the farm they were excited to get on board.

"It was a perfect fit," said Madame Zingara spokeswoman, Nicky-Anne De Beer, "like our I Love My Hood campaign, we support things that encourage you to take care of the communities in which you live. "It is on a heritage site, it is giving back to communities, and it is empowering people." De Beer confirmed that where they could, the Madame Zingara restaurants would use the OZCF as a main supplier. "We like the ways things are grown there, organically, and what it is doing for the community involved."

Funding needed for educational and outreach programmes

In the future the organisers hope the farm will support itself selling the vegetables it grows, compost, seedlings, t-shirts and more, and operating a tearoom. However, the cost of the educational and outreach programmes will have to come from donations and funding. The land where the farm is situated is a heritage site owned by the city, and the lease, Ozinsky said, is with City Parks. The OZCF had to acquire a permit from Heritage Western Cape in order to operate. Heritage Western Cape said they supported the project, but that all questions should be directed to Sheryl Ozinsky.

The farm is open to the public Monday to Saturday, 7am-4pm, visitors - and volunteers - are welcome.

For more info, go to www.ozcf.co.za.

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