by James Uthando

Abalimi Bezekhaya - Farmers of Home

Assisting disadvantaged communities in a sustainable manner

Sustainable empowerment
Abalimi Bezekhaya (Farmers of Home)

Abalimi is an urban agriculture (UA) and environmental action (EA) association operating in the socio-economically neglected townships of Khayelitsha, Nyanga and surrounding areas on the Cape Flats near Cape Town, South Africa.

Abalimi means: "the Planters" in Xhosa, the predominant language among their target community. They assist individuals, groups and community based organisations to initiate and maintain permanent organic food growing and nature conservation projects as the basis for sustainable lifestyles, self-help job creation, poverty alleviation and environmental renewal.

Since 1994, they have capacitated community groups and organizations to initiate hundreds of urban agriculture (UA) environmental action (EA) model projects. Through their greening programme they develop water-wise, sustainable, indigenous, educational oases which improve the external environment and living conditions in schools, homes, streets and organisations within the Cape Flats.

There are two non-profit Garden Centre nurseries in Khayelitsha & Nyanga. From here they provide low cost, subsidised gardening resources such as manure, seed, seedlings, tools and organic pest control remedies to individual gardeners, groups and organisations. Abalimi supplies up to 11000 individual subsistence micro-farmers, per annum, from these nurseries.

They run several training courses that use participatory methodologies and have a very practical 'hands on' approach. As most trainees cannot afford to pay the full cost, bursaries are provided according to need. Following the course, trainees receive a certificate, which increasingly paves the way to job opportunities, for example as caretakers at schools.

Harvest of Hope was launched at the beginning of 2008. The aim was to sell vegetables in a very direct, friendly and personal way so that farmers would benefit from a secure and fair income while customers would benefit from reasonably priced and locally produced (low carbon footprint!) organic vegetables. Customers would also have the knowledge that their money is giving people jobs and conserving the environment through local organic farming among the poor. Therefore the best market place is at schools, where parents come to fetch their children after the classes and are anxious for fresh and organic vegetables for their families.  

This project is a true reflection of empowering people in an environmentally friendly way. Disadvantaged communities can gain great value from initiatives such as these. 

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