It is time to return to the land.
South Africa has a rich heritage of subsistence farming. For centuries, South African families supported themselves on field-to-table farms. This subsistence lifestyle was destroyed by apartheid taxation laws, as the government of the day targeted farmers in their attempt to create a stable urban workforce. That workforce now surrounds all South African cities.
With record unemployment, declining economic growth and soaring poverty, the likelihood of the urban poor finding regular, meaningful employment in our crumbling cities and failing economies, is extremely low. It is time to reverse the urbanisation of the 19th and 20th centuries. It is time to return to the land.
urban farming programs have not only failed in application, scale and impact, they have prolonged the misery of the poor in our failed urban ecosystems, producing inadequate amounts of fresh produce for poor communities, while offering no exit strategy from the poverty itself. A failed system. A radical departure is badly needed.
The Ubuntu Farm represents this departure. An Ubuntu Farm stands in contrast to the passive resignation and token acknowledgement that most policy makers and the non-profit industry have adopted towards South Africa’s structural urban poverty. An Ubuntu Farm is an exit strategy from the urban poverty and failed urban economics.
Poverty erodes hope and imagination. Ubuntu Army aims to recapture both by providing Ubuntu Farms to marginalised families trapped in the cycle of poverty on the outskirts of our cities. An Ubuntu Farm is a micro-farm, that grows a mix of cash and kitchen-table crops, but is not designed to grow a significant amount of either.
An Ubuntu Farm is designed to grow just enough strategically selected, seasonal, and area specific crops to spark the imagination of the new urban farmers, around what is possible if these plants are farmed at a slightly larger scale on rural or tribal land, and used within their households, sold raw in local organic markets, or processed, packaged and sold.
An Ubuntu Farm consists of three elements. The first is the farm itself, the hardware, which is in a state of constant design, and redesign, as we strive to provide a durable, easy-to-use and transportable vertical farm solution. The hardware has been designed to withstand the toughest African conditions, and to remain practical and productive in even the most confined urban settings, serving even the most marginalised and dispossessed.
Built from hardy, UV stable, rip-stop nylon, the farm is designed to hang on any vertical surface, has deep pockets capable pf holding enough soil for our root systems, and is portable, allowing for it to be moved inside at night to protect the crops from frosty mornings. The farm is collapsable, and light weight, and can be rolled up into a cardboard postal tube, allowing for it to be easily transported nationally through courier and in-house retail store courier systems.
The second element is the seed stock, which serves as a personal seed bank to the new urban farmers. The seed bank is a repository of organic wealth that will support new farming families in their initial urban farming endeavours, and later on, supports their upscaled rural farms. This heirloom seed bank will serve as a foundation for the farm for generations.
The 20 seeds selected are a combination of vegetables, herbs, and flowers, all of which yield high value produce, which can be eaten, sold raw or processed. The capacity for some of the produce to be processed is vital, in that the processing allows for the development of allied home and small scale industries, which further propel the vulnerable out of their urban poverty.
the know how
The third element of an Ubuntu Farm, is the information and support offered by Ubuntu Army to new farmers in identifying available tribal and state land allocations, selecting appropriate seasonal and climate specific crops, applying economies of scale and best practice farming methods, identifying local produce markets and exploring the opportunities available in the processed product markets.
Ubuntu Army provides technical support in the manufacture of processed products, small business support, and constant encouragement in nurturing the potentials available to the urban poor in a rural farming venture. This support is offered on a digital broadcast level, with an aim to provide more personalised support in the future, on local and provincial levels, as the program grows.
a real alternative
Ubuntu Army distributes Ubuntu Farms to vulnerable families nationally. They are compact, affordable, and easily transported and distributed. Our aim is to distribute the farms through popular mass retailers and chain stores, thereby ensuring penetration deep into the fabric of the urban poverty that haunts our cities.
Through its application, accessibility and simplicity, an Ubuntu Farm has emerged as a democratic and sustainable alternative to poverty. An Ubuntu Farm fosters responsibility, independence, purpose and hope in the lives of the marginalised, creates food security, and ultimately solves the poverty that millions of South African families live in. And, an Ubuntu Farm is a carbon sink that has a positive net effect on global warming.
If urbanisation is a choice, then so too is poverty. With the inspiration that an Ubuntu Farm reveals, those affected by poverty have the choice, and the capacity, to leave the poverty of their urban lives in search of rural independence and dignity.
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