First organic market opens at school

Helen Zille, premier of the Western Cape, cuts the ribbon at the official opening of the first Neighbourhood Farm stall at Kommetjie Primary. She was accompanied by members of the standing parliamentary committee from the Department of Community Development. Kneeling in front is Justin Bonello, founder of Neighbourhood Farms.
Helen Zille, premier of the Western Cape, cuts the ribbon at the official opening of the first Neighbourhood Farm stall at Kommetjie Primary. She was accompanied by members of the standing parliamentary committee from the Department of Community Development. Kneeling in front is Justin Bonello, founder of Neighbourhood Farms.

The local community of Kommetjie and parents and children of Kommetjie Primary School will now be able to buy fresh produce from the organic market garden at the school.

On Thursday 16 August the first neighbourhood farm stall was opened at Kommetjie Primary School by Helen Zille, Western Cape premier.

This organic market garden was the “test” garden in Justin Bonello and Erik Haraldsen’s ambitious 11-school Neighbourhood Farm pilot project. Three are under construction at schools in the Deep South and at False Bay Hospital.

The hospital aims to be the greenest healthcare facility in the Western Cape, with harvesting beginning in early September. The next two farm stalls will open at False Bay Hospital and Paul Greyling Primary School respectively over the next two months.

“The opening of today’s Neighbourhood Farm stall places the spotlight on communities taking ownership of producing their own food. Schoolchildren benefit from nutritious vegetables, and local entrepreneurs also have the opportunity to sell directly to the immediate community – which boosts the local economy,” said Zille.

“We broke ground at Kommetjie Primary in March 2018 and have used the site as a dress rehearsal for water provision, garden layout, and washing and packing facilities,” said Bonello.

The Kommetjie farm stall opened on Wednesday 8 August for a week of refining and a dry run. To complement the fresh produce, there is milk and bread from Camphill and other ethically sourced hyper-local goods. Each local school’s Neighbourhood Farm stall will give local entrepreneurs an outlet for their produce such as honey, bread, cheese, preserves and vegetables.

“We’ve been quite cautious about opening too many stalls too quickly. We’re using each location as a learning for the next to ensure we provide fresh produce the community needs and wants.

“Our mission is to promote sustainable, ethical and healthy food to local schools and communities. We are working to address the urgent need for food security and developing the local economy by integrating education, environmentally sustainable farming and social change,” he added.

Neighbourhood Farm’s focus is on seasonal vegetables and they have planted spring onions, leeks, beetroots, turnips, kale, radishes, celery, various herbs, spinach, leafy greens, rocket and carrots. As summer approaches and other farms, such as False Bay Hospital, come online, there will be greater crop diversity.

“We see the individual farms as one big farm, and create crop diversity across the various sites. Each garden location provides work for three or four full-time market gardeners. Our vision for the Deep South is that eventually, all the 18 local schools will grow their own Neighbourhood Farm which provides nutrient goodness for the 15 000-strong school communities, creates employment and garners closer connection, but the bigger dream is to see a mosaic of Neighbourhood Farms across the Western Cape that focus on creating a wellbeing economy, complete with local entrepreneurship and edible education,” he said.

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