Johannesburg got its first rooftop farm, which is the first of over 100 rooftop farms to hit the city and use abandoned spaces to grow produce for the city.
The Urban Agriculture Initiative launched its first rooftop farm at the top of the Chamber of Mines in the heart of Johannesburg. The farm was a pilot project to test if it would be a viable option to carry out around Johannesburg.
The “aim of this initiative is to create a vibrant urban agricultural ecosystem by innovatively repurposing disused rooftops and making use of hydroponics and aquaponics to produce agricultural produce for Johannesburg’s inner city communities.”
The rooftop farms will grow crops that have a quick turn around time, they will grow herbs and vegetables that are in demand. Hydroponics and aquaponics require a significant capital investment which is why the project needed to be tested.
“Given the successful outcome of the pilot project, the Department of Small Business has decided to immediately fund 24 projects and will in total fund 100 such projects.”
The reason they have decided to use this method of farming is that hydroponics and aquaponics crops are grown in special water solutions without the need for soil or large open spaces. This makes it perfect for the limited rooftop space on most buildings.
This method also reduces water consumption because 95% of the water used is circulated and reused on the crops.
The first of the rooftop farms have been handed over to a gentleman, at no cost to him, to run full time. Nhlanhla Mpati will manage and cultivate the crops as he see’s fit.
“Farmers are free to sell their produce to whoever they choose to and the profits all go to the roof-top farmers. This allows farmers to sustain and further invest in their projects,” said the Chamber of Mines.
“Thus far, the first crop has been sold to the Johannesburg Fresh Produce Market and to cafés and coffee shops in the area and even to people who work in the Chamber of Mines building.
“Interestingly, the crops are also sold by making use of an app where people who need produce and people who provide produce are connected with each other.”