Capacity Building: Urban Farming and Gardening

Jul 15, 2013

two links to new articles

Hello dear GlobalGiving Friends- please take a peek at the two links below for a couple of nice recent articles on our work!

All is going well- we are launching a young farmer training program this year, I will let you know more once its up and running.

Our next Abalimi Friends newsletter is under preparation, so expect to see it in my next report !

The two article links below are among many others that I am told have been written- we are getting so many visitors these days that its impossible to keep up with all that is being documented :)

Not a bad position to be in, but it does put a lot of pressure on us to service visitors, instead of our farmers. Of course our farmers come first ! That is why our farmers register has grown in the last 8 months from 3000 to nearly 4000 !

Our kind of work can only become more relevant- it is not a fashion, but a necessity, for true cultural renewal,  through re-connection to soil and therefore soul. Most of our modern soil scientists have long forgotten that soil is not just a pile of chemical reactions- it is a truly living organ of the earth, its very 'brain' which conveys the thought-life forms of nature. Hydroponics cannot do without it either, since they "mine" it for source material and they will not, ever, be able to do without real, good, soil for the source of all complex life material and "ideas" needed for growing crops hydroponically. Nor will Monsanto ever be able to do without "heritage seed" as source material for their plans of world food conquest.

Please, if you have a salary, don't grow your own vegetables- rather buy from locals who earn a living from growing healthy food. In this way your money can completely change - forthe better- the way food systems work- and these systems are the very foundation of our culture !  All the very best. Rob- micro-farmer at the foot of Africa 


Dec 23, 2013

another lovely article

Hello dear Global Giving Friends- this report somehow did not get submitted in May 13 - I had not hit the submit button and only see that now. !

See the well writen article "future on urban farming" attached ! Its still fresh and true!  Its an article written by journalist Dayle Kavonic from Cape Town Magazine with images from famous Amercian photographer Patrick West , who visited in Oct 2012, as well as images  from Abalimi.  

Cape Town Mag is a cosmopolitan on-line magazine set up to promote Cape Town and all its wonders and has a large readership.

Please remember that you, when in Cape Town, are always welcome to come visit and see for yourself what your investment is achieving. I attach also the latest invitation to the Abalimi-Harvest of Hope Tuesday tour, which has some lovely video clip links embedded in it, so you can get an extra feel of what goes down hereabouts. 

Happy Christmas one and all!

All strength and courage for 2014


Apr 29, 2013

some lovely reports

Hello everyone, please take a look at the links below:

1. Amber Breitenberg''s blog link (see below) - Amber is a wonderful volunteer form USA who has just returned home, has posted some excellent reports on her blog- she covered some key events in Abalimi's life while she was with us, including visists to Home Gardens, a Training Course for farmers and a visit from Minister of the Presidency Trevor Manual

2. a really nice article just posted on Eat Out mag by Sarah Emily Duff- ( see below) 

THANK YOU one and all for your amazing and generous gifts. I have recently heard  that the true nature of money is "love in action" . I agree wholeheartedly with this notion,  as the true (oft forgotten) essence of money. And your gifts are certainly love in action,  in the very best sense of the word.

Bless you all until the next report :)

P.S. I see that our project has been given superstar status by GlobalGiving !!

I know from personal experience that GlobalGiving staff work incredibly hard and often go way beyond the call of duty to make things happen.  GlobalGiving itself deserves Superstar status. Thank you dear People of GlobalGiving, thank you .


Feb 14, 2013

farmer valentines

Home garden in containers Khayelitsha Jan 2013
Home garden in containers Khayelitsha Jan 2013

Dear Global Giving Friends , we just recieved a Global Giving Disbursement of USD 1648.51 from you,  via Global Giving .

I know a few of you personally,  and some have come to visit our work. so can speak about it first hand.

Firstly, thank you, thank you ! Everything truly human in life begins with a gift, and evolves towards true gifting.

With your help, the gift we give the world is that our micro-farmer movement continues to grow - over 700 new people signed up since March 2012.  Take a look at the healthy crop growing in containers , created by a new micro-farmer member in the picture attached to this report!

Furthermore, the message is spreading far and wide- "urban farming makes cities sustainable" - see part 1 of the latest article featuring Abalimi in the attached link.

I dont know if its Valentines Day in your part of the world, like it is as I write this here in South Africa. Whatever the case, I hope that you and yours are thriving.

All the very best

Rob Small


P.S. to those of you who have visited us and know us, and also to those of you who choose to contribute even though you may never have witnessed first hand what we do, please do write something on Global Giving ?  Your words of support can be powerful 


Dec 19, 2012

"If You Can Grow Your Own Food, You Can Be Free."

Founder of Abalimi, Rob Smalls (Right)
Founder of Abalimi, Rob Smalls (Right)

Abalimi isn't just about growing vegetables; it's not just a project, but a movement to foster freedom for all through community farming.

Nearly every aspect of their programming reflects local township leadership: farming, harvesting, food education, and more are all speer-headed by the black South Africans who live in the townships (Khayelitsha, Nyanga, and the and rural settlements by the Cape Flats where many of the farming plots are based).

Founder Rob Small's bottom-up leadership philosophy really shines through via the workflow of the Abalimi movement. For instance, during my visit -- which was conducted as an official Abalimi Tour -- we first visited a plot that was currently harvesting spring onions (the largest I'd ever seen in my life!) and other vegetables; there, Rob mentioned that the women working that plot had told him about a week ago that the watering system had stopped working. When he asked them whether it had been fixed, they told him no, and he proceeded to explain to them what they needed to do to get to it. Later, he let us know that it would take a phone call from him to fix the faulty equipment, but that it was important that the women learned to be resourceful and advocate for themselves.

Abalimi takes pride on nurturing community leadership. At the core of their programming is education, supported by a referral system that links people to resources (not just related to urban agriculture, but civic engagement and local municipal government services). This is all part of Abalimi's push to empower farmers to stand on their own two feet.

As with agriculture across the board, farmers are not able to make a profit (or even make net) without government subsidies. So, the funds from GlobalGiving go towards that subsidy, reducing the cost of farming and harvesting so make it worthwhile for the community. Rob's goal is to empower enough farmers to want to produce more food so that they can take more advanced orders and sell more, which will further lower the cost of farming and increase profits for the farmers. It's certain that the funds from GG are used very thoughtfully, and strategically.

The most inspiring part of the visit was meeting the woman who runs the Abalami training center (where they sell seeds to new farmers and offer training so that they can get started). She started out as a farmer, and is now such an expert that she trains other people to train farmers. From her work as a farmer, she has been able to purchase a car, send her children to school, and live a very comfortable life. Rob insists this is attainable for anyone who desires it, even in urban farming. And is constantly working to drive that message home to young people.

"If you can grow your own food, you can be free. You can earn money, drive a decent care, provide for your family. You won't have to ask the government for anything. That is real freedom."

Marking Your Plot!
Marking Your Plot!
Packaging the Vegetables for Delivery
Packaging the Vegetables for Delivery
Young Horticulturist Volunteers at Abalimi
Young Horticulturist Volunteers at Abalimi

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Project Leader

Rob Small

Resource Mobilisation Leader and Board Secretary
Cape Town, Western Cape South Africa

Where is this project located?

Map of Capacity Building: Urban Farming and Gardening