The Covid-19 pandemic and lockdown have laid bare the inequities and fragility of our food system, particularly in our most vulnerable communities. Given the vast scale of the food system as a whole, or even a city-regional food system, a small-scale, ground-up approach is a practical, viable alternative that can strengthen local food production (especially micro- & small-scale farms) and shorter supply chains, create diversity in the food supply chain and channels of distribution (from farm to fork), and contribute to a more circular local economy.
The SA Urban Food & Farming Trust is working in the under-resourced community of Langa with a local non-profit, the Masakhe Foundation, on a pilot project that will establish local supporting infrastructure, farming inputs and services (AgriHub) to assist existing and new urban farmers, and also establish supporting infrastructure and services for market access (FoodHub) by these farmers to local customers. This will strengthen existing urban small-scale farmers, micro-farmers and community gardens, increase local availability of locally grown produce, improve opportunities for farmers to expand into commercial farming, improve household nutrition and food security in Langa, and strengthen social cohesion.
The project site, owned by the Red Cross Society, is located in the heart of Langa, within the Langa Cultural Heritage Precinct, adjacent to the Lerotholi Food Garden.
The SA Urban Food & Farming Trust has committed to spend a combined R1.5 million for infrastructure and capital investment in the Langa Agri/Food Hub and Lerotholi Food Garden projects, with an additional amount committed for pre-implementation planning, design and other costs. Further funding is being sought for operational start-up costs for 2021-23.
This pilot project will eventually have local, Langa-based operation of the Agri/Food Hub, with the SA Urban Food & Farming Trust providing strategic and planning support, implementation support, and ongoing mentoring as needed, anticipated to diminish with time and structured to avoid long-term dependency. Opportunities to scale similar Agri/Food Hubs into other communities, creating a network of nodes, will also be identified.