Saturday, 24 September 2016

Farming with the PHA

I've been silent for a while, as I have some ideas for new directions for this blog, but have presently not made a decision on where to go next.

I thought that in the mean time I'd share my experience volunteering with the Philippi Horticultural Association.

Philippi is a large area in Cape Town, zoned and repeatedly recommended for small garden, community-based horticulture, and it possesses the city's most reliable, voluminous discharge into an aquifer.

Essentially, it is an area that makes much more clean groundwater available in Cape Town than there would otherwise be - which is an essential ingredient for a food production area! Small farmers often cannot afford municipal rates for water, but water is abundant and cheap in Philippi, which is unique in the otherwise brittle, dry, drought-prone Western Cape!

This area not only provides plenty of food in Cape Town, it also localises the economy of urban food production, which uplifts people far more reliably than big agricultural business. Small agriculture is more intensive, and results in the upskilling of the local population.

However, Philippi is under threat from property developers. Read more about the campaign to preserve the community land  here.

Vegkop Farm

Last week Tuesday, I spent the day volunteering at one of the community farms in Philippi - Vegkop Farm.  I worked with and chatted to Nazeer, community activist and farmer, Brian, a local agronomist and volunteer, and James.  We planted tomatoes and marrows, weeded beds and carefully hand-mulched strawberries. A filmmaker from SABC2, Danie, came to chat with us as well and to interview Nazeer about the PHA campaign. This programme will be aired on SABC2 at 6pm tomorrow, the 25th of September.

The volunteers' day begins at 9am and ends at 3pm. We enjoyed lunch while sitting on straw bales in the PHA community event hall.

I enjoyed spending the day in the sun and with my hands in the soil again. I feel that the gardening communities of Philippi have an essential role to play in the upliftment of people in Cape Town, and I was glad to be of support to the community.

If anyone has their Tuesdays or Thursdays free, contact Nazeer Sonday at or on Facebook to help out with this venture.


  1. Please contact Nazeer Sonday through facebook or

  2. I've updated my post to reflect this, thanks Brian