Rob Small is like a force of nature and spending time with him will invigorate you or exhaust you or both, but you will not regret any of it.
I first heard about Abalimi Bezekhaya back in 2000 as an organisation doing amazing work in townships. Abalimi means: “The Planters” in Xhosa. At the time I wasn’t thinking about food gardening yet, so sadly missed out on 9 years of their work in the meantime, but have been making up for lost time since recently meeting Rob. The visionary Peter Templeton founded the project (then called “farming in the city”) in 1982 and Rob began to contribute his valued mix of creativity, energy, focus and hope in the late 80s..
Abalimi assists micro-farmers in sub-economic ‘townships’ on the Cape Flats to get started (training, seeds/seedlings, manure), keep going (subsistence farming) or improve their work (selling surplus produce). Initial work was strongly focused on improving household food security, but this has steadily grown into a gardening movement among many thousands.
We recently met Mama Chaba and Mama Phillipina (above) at their garden located at the Phillipi Municipality, and then got to see the dispatching of last week’s Harvest of Hope orders. Ma Chaba and Ma Phillipina are two of 6 small-scale farmers working on this plot of land – about half a hectare in size. They are regular contributors to the Harvest of Hope fresh produce.
With the help of the SA Institute for Entrepreneurship and The Business Place Phillipi, Abilimi have created a social business model – Harvest of Hope. This programme launched in 2008 and is now dispatching over 100 vegetable boxes from 50 farmers in 20 community gardens every Tuesday. Their aim is to increase to 150 farmers, and 600 boxes by the end of 2010.
Every box consists of 11 items of seasonal organic veggies and believe me these veggies are FRESH. Standing in the dispatching area at Abalimi had my mouth watering with the smell and sight of it. Small boxes (feeds 2 people for 1 week) cost R65.00 and large boxes (feeds 4 people for 1 week) cost R95.00.
To join their box-scheme, download an electronic copy of the Harvest of Hope Sign-up form, or contact them at: Harvest of Hope, Philippi Business Centre, Landsdowne Road, Philippi. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org; Tel: 021-371 1653; Fax: 086-515 5584; or Jenny Smuts: 082-366 8777
Thanks Rob and everyone at Abalimi Bezekhaya and Harvest of Hope!