A search for spinach and a parallel frustration the seemingly endless problems of the city were the seeds of a conversation. It is too easy to criticize and point fingers from the sidelines, but meaningful change only comes from positive action. Two people in different stages of their lives found common ground and so cultivated a shared vision. If farming was the key to settlement, surplus, economics, technology, urbanization, and the city, then it played a part in seeding all our problems. But what if farming could be the thing that cultivates the solution? Everyone a Farmer!
Howard Drakes – I have tried my hand at journalism, writing, youth development, facilitation, and change management but I have never been more excited at the prospect wearing the hat of farmer and being part of cultivating real change. Co-founder, research, community engagement, storytelling, and full time farmerr
Rehann Calitz – A creative soul and disruptor. In a former life Rehann ran a design studio that was responsible for conceptualizing well known insurance brands like OutSurance and MiWay that changed the way insurance was done in South Africa. In a quest for greater meaning in life, Rehann has settled on the last job title he ever wants to have. Co-founder, conceptualist, relationship builder, and full time farmer.
Thiresh Govender – Architect, urban designer, co-founder of UrbanWorks, and general optimist. Thiresh’s work in the city is, in his own words, “informed by the ideals of the democratic project”. When we commissioned a feasibility around a large-scale commercial farm in 2014, it was a natural fit. Thiresh is a farmer of space. UrbanWorks is busy with a feasibility around the school rooftop farm. They are also the lead architects on the City of Johannesburg African Food and Culture Hub being developed outside the school’s front door. Thiresh and his team are strategic partners that will play an increasingly integral role in various projects of FtC.
Antonio Scarponi was introduced to us by Thiresh. Antonio founded Conceptual Devices, a Zurich-based Practice Focused on Strategic Design and Architecture. In recent years, Conceptual Devices has design of urban agricultural devices. Urban farming is not understood just as the mere production of food in the city but as the production of the city, a way to grow the city as a living environment. Like Thiresh, he is a natural fit. A strategic partner, Antonio spent time with us in Johannesburg during October to understand the city towards designing FtC an urban farming system. Together with UrbanWorks, Conceptual Devices would lead the conceptualisation and design of the school rooftop farm resulting in a tailor made system that fits our unique needs.
Lance Quiding – Engineer, serial entrepreneur, farmer and CEO at Integrated Aquaculture. Lance is at the coalface of developing the aquaculture industry in South Africa. His vision is to make aqua and permaculture farming accessible to everyone. A strategic partner, Lance is developing context appropriate technologies and training materials that FtC will make use of in the future. http://www.farmfish.co.za/index.php?route=information/information&information_id=4
Tony Lopes – An electrical engineering with many years of experience in petrochemicals, mining, and construction, Tony became disgruntled by what saw as his role in adding to the problems of the Earth. Tony quit his job and now lives each day searching for ways to reduce his own footprint. A strategic partner, Tony is a born project manager with practical experience in design innovation around community gardens, green technologies, and education. We call him the Green Jesus.
Tony’s TEDx Johannesburg Talk - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FNrK8eQIaeA
Exotically Divine Ital – A collective of inner-city chefs cooking vegetarian food using traditional African staples. Their goal is to change the way people in the city eat through healthy food, education around the cultural role of food and the ritual of eating, while sharing their philosophy of “food is medicine”. Strategic partners, FtC has collaborated on a number of projects with the guys with many more being planned. It is no mistake that they are the first to be profiled in our Farmers of the City project on our website.
Dr. Naude Malan, Department of Anthropology and Development Studies at University of Johannesburg. Convener of Izindaba Zokudla (Conversations About Food), a multi-stakeholder engagement project that aims to create opportunities for urban agriculture in a sustainable food system in Soweto. Strategic partners, we have been in discussion with Dr. Malan about opportunities to collaborate for mutual benefit.
Claire Thwaits - Senior Programme Manager: Transnet Programme in Sustainable Development at Gordon Institute of Business Science & MD of the Network for Business Sustainability. Claire plans using FtC as her research project for her MBA in 2016.
We feel that the core of existing strategic partners will grow with time and as the needs arise, as will our need to employ/partner with others of the relevant skills, but for now have a strong foundation. FtC also envisions the creation of a Cultivator’s Council (Board) at a future time to be made up of experts and heavy hitters in their respective fields, but we are not there yet.