A new, locally produced TV series focused on growing food in urban areas is aiming to change how food is sourced and produced in Southern Africa. Urban Farming will be made freely available to state broadcasters in SADC countries with online availability via YouTube, a website, and a mobile app.
So far only the pilot episode has been released, but if the first effort is anything to go by, the 13 part series will be an enjoyable and interesting watch. What’s more, the subject matter has never been more important.
Urban populations continue to swell across Africa. The World Bank estimates that by 2050, Africa’s cities will, on average, be 16% more populated. This places a huge strain on employment, infrastructure, and resources. The Urban Farming team hopes that the series will stimulate creative thinking around how people feed and support themselves.
Producer and Director David Reeler says that the show will provide a possible antidote to the rising incidence of urban strife. “There are NGOs dishing out huge money to the rural areas, but few people are doing anything in the cities – which are also centres of poverty and hunger. The population of SADC is nearly the same size as the population of the USA, and we want to teach this target audience of about 100 million people how to grow vegetables in the city,” says Reeler.
Mike Davies is the technical producer for the TV series. He sees opportunity in the rise of rural to urban migration. “So often the people coming into cities from rural areas already have food-growing skills, and these should be put to use. The idea that to be a modern city you have to have concrete, cars, and glass is bollocks. We can’t all wear suits and work at desks. Cities can and should be so much more than that,” says Davies.
In terms of production quality Urban Farming is aiming to be top notch. Simon de Swardt of Treasure Media is doing the camera work and editing the show. “We hope to make a show that will look and sound good – that looks like it belongs on TV. We will be using quality equipment and experienced crew, and doing a proper sound mix,” he says. With the use of a drone, De Swardt has taken footage of Harare that you’ve never seen before, and locates the images of plants and gardens firmly in the urban context.
Commenting on the likelihood of a the show being effective, Davies is confident that the circumstances and timing are right. “Our people have an amazing desire to grow things. We plant trees and food wherever we live, and this is an engine for growth that has to be tapped into. Farming doesn’t just belong kumusha, and shouldn’t just be a mealie patch during the rainy season. Vegetable growing, bee keeping, fish farming for home and commercial production should be happening in community and private gardens across the city, in every suburb. It is a real coping strategy that needs our support.” Davies is determined to lobby council to recognise urban farming as a legitimate enterprise for building the local economy and healthy communities. “Council should be demarcating land for urban farmers, with facilities such as lock up areas, and a water supply. Urban farmers benefit commercially because access to resources and markets means that they are able to grow more intensively and make more of a living from a smaller space.”
In future issues, Harare News will share with you some of the exciting projects and stories that have already started to emerge from the Urban Farming series – with a view to promoting the ideas and objectives behind the show, and the show itself.
Are you growing food in the city? Get in touch with Urban Farming to share your story and inspire the world. Email: [email protected].
Watch the pilot episode on YouTube here.
Image: Drone footage used in Urban Agriculture pilot shows Harare like you’ve never seen it before. This is a view of Dzivarasekwa, where even the smallest green patches hold the potential for urban food production.