Vegkop Polyculture Farm is a 1ha production, learning, modeling and training farm located in the Philippi Horticultural Area, Cape Town
The farm was born out of the struggles of farmers and the community. Our 'Watermans' farming is based on the teachings of the Watermans of Camissa imbedded in the rich tradition and culture of the Cape Khoi communities of Camissa, who for hundreds of years prior to the arrival of the colonial settler farmers, based their livelihoods on the Camissa ecosystem- the land, rivers, wetlands, aquifers and indigenous plants.
Vegkop farmers seek to be good stewards of the land, given by the Creator as an ‘amana’ [trust] in safe-keeping for future generations to come. We strive to unlearn and relearn what it is to be farmers. We building a new relationship with the land and soil; RETURN to indigenous traditions of Khoi landculture where we see ourselves not as property owners, but as land curators wherein land is connected to our identity, our spirituality and our culture. This new but old sense of landculture guides us today to make our farm walk lightly on the soil, aquifer, climate and to be a benefit to our community.
At the root of the Watermans farming is the ‘waterdraaer’, the Cape Flats Aquifer- the source of life for farmers. Watermans farming seeks to not live in or recreate the past but that our history, our ancestors and struggles teach us how to address the contemporary challenges we face wrt our environment and community. The farm's journey of struggle included a plant nursery, a kennel, an informal dump site and a hydroponic tomato farm.
Vegkop farm’s objectives are to;
to grow skilled farmers through our farmworker-to-farmer training
to participate in the conversation on small-scale farmers and land reform
to grow the farm to become fully self-sufficient by 2023
To grow our farming roots in pursuit of freedom, peace, knowledge, regeneration and self-sufficiency.
To model the 2ha polyculture farm of the future applicable and replicable as an innovative, SMART land reform model for peri-urban farming in the Philippi Horticultural Area and elsewhere.
To standardize, simplify and communicate applied regenerative farming practice
To grow healthy and culturally appropriate food and the right to define our own food and farming systems
To strengthen the farm as the farmer to farmer learning hub, combining and applying indigenous and local knowledge with science
To unify and harmonize the relationship between farmer and nature, alert to the urgent need for climate change resilience.
1. Farming as a way of cultivating good soil, good food, good community and good character
2. The learnings out of the struggle for freedom and self-determination
3. The virtues of mutual responsibility, patience, perseverance, creativity and intelligence.
4. Solidarity with local and global small-scale farmers
All farmworkers have some knowledge and history of farming. Farmers learn through experiential learning which is tracked monthly. Guided by Farmer Nazeer, Monday morning workshops frame the week, and include various global best practice videos, debates and guests. Once a year there is a broader soil workshop, as well as various (farm) design workshops and Farm-builds; throughout the year the campaign centre on the farm is visited by university students and activists.
Our Learner Farmers gain experiential knowledge on all aspects of farming including farm design, plant propagation, regenerative production techniques, compost and recycling, production record keeping, basic bookkeeping, value adding and marketing. They engage critically in the politics of food and farming.
Progress is prompted via monthly reflection by learner farmers who, via reflection (and a questionnaire) connect their experience to theory. They gain insight into themselves and their interactions with their work. Learner farmers consider how their new skills are transferable to their own farm in the future.
Farmers will continue their learning and livelihood journey on land in the PHA and elsewhere. They will form part of a broader network of farmers who practise, learn and teach regenerative polyculture farming.
Our 2023 farm objective:
to grow the learning farm to become fully self-sufficient by 2023
to have skilled farmers to farm on their own and grow the farmer network
to recruit a new cycle of learner farmers for the 2024 cycle