The Community Market Gardens programme is an income-producing vegetable production initiative highly suited to the South African agriculture landscape.
The programme develops and supports small-holder producers who have passed the threshold of sustainable agriculture but are not yet producing at the scale of a commercial farmer. These community market gardens have the potential to produce a significant amount of food, however.
Projects involved in the Community Market Gardens programme often underpin the food security of local community (and beyond) while providing the small-holder with a good income and a sustainable livelihood.
What is a Market Garden?
A market garden — also referred to as a micro-farm — is a small-scale production system of vegetables, herbs, and fruit grown as cash-crops. The intensity and diversity of crops produced, as well as the land size, sets it apart from traditional farming methods. Crops are often sold directly to a community retailer but they can also be aggregated and sold to fresh produce markets.
In South Africa, community market gardens play important social and business roles. They function as mini-hubs for socialising, agro-processing, and other small (unrelated) business activities. While not a hard-and-fast rule, they are often characterised by groups of women who take responsibility for plots on a larger parcel of land individually, in pairs, or as a small group.
- Only projects with an existing grounding in production and agriculture, and have undergone an FTFA assessment, are selected.
- We focus on bio-intensive agriculture and give priority to ecologically sound principles.
- Multiple cash-crops are grow in rotation systems alongside fruit and herbs.
- Appropriate infrastructure development.
- Equal emphasis is placed on technical skills and social dynamics to promote sustainability.
- We include the FTFA Business Box and basic administration as part of the intervention.
- Through our network we seek to establish a consistent market and supply chain for the project.
- FTFA’s community-based market gardens are characterised by the ability to sell a diversity of naturally grown produce relatively consistently;
- They provide a platform for social and economic development on a grassroots level;
- Locally grown produce is fresher, cheaper, and more accessible to those in under-resourced areas;
- Market gardens are a foundation for healthy lifestyles: physical activity, collaborating, and sharing and communicating with multiple stakeholders;
- It’s a place of relaxation and recreation;
- Source of ongoing teaching for respecting of the environment and taking pride in one’s neighbourhood.