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A Cape Town food source under threat

Private housing plans threaten a vital source of food and water security for Cape Town.

farming vegetables organic

Original article by Sarah Emily Duff

A recent post on Tangerine and Cinnamon blog highlighted the threat to the Philippi Horticultural Area (PHA) after a Mayoral Committee approved an application from a private housing company to have 280 hectares rezoned for residential housing.

The PHA has been growing vegetables for Cape Town and the surrounding areas since the 19th century.

It’s a mix of large-scale farming and smallholdings and several well-known ‘veggie basket’ companies such as Harvest for Hope are based here, providing employment, income and food for very poor communities around the Philippi area.

Sarah Duff, the author of the article above, quoted lots of stats, research and reports into why allowing the loss of more than 10% of the agricultural area to urban development is a bad, short-sighted decision and also provided links to places where petitions could be signed and protests made.

But where are all the Cape Town foodies in this equation?

Cape Town prides itself on a huge and thriving food culture with loads of farmers’ markets, fresh produce available, sustainable seafood initiatives etc etc.

Why has there not been a big outcry about this?

Here Sarah puts it very eloquently on her blog:

“I mean, after all, these are the people who profess to love local produce, and who argue that their interest in food and cooking has the potential to do good in the world.

These are people with clout: who appear on television programmes, who write for newspapers and magazines with large circulations.

These are the people who have the power to shame Patricia de Lille and other members of the Mayoral Committee into rethinking their decision.

They have, I would argue, a moral duty to use their position to save the region that produces the vegetables they cook with, and which they eat at restaurants.

And what are they doing? Is their lack of interest in the PHA to do with the fact that it’s in a poor part of Cape Town? That there aren’t any high-end chefs with restaurants in Philippi? That they can’t find the same sort of meaning in the PHA as they do in baking brownies?

If they’re really serious about supporting small agriculture in Cape Town, then, surely, they’ll pay as much attention to the PHA as they would to the garden at Babylonstoren.”

What do you think, does she have a point? Should we be doing more to raise awareness of this? Or is it just another storm in a teacup?

By: Cathy Marston


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