A rural slice of old Mother City Bowl

Western Cape

Cape Town - They say the camera adds weight. It also makes things look bigger. Like Oranjezicht City Farm in Cape Town.

In the photographs it looks massive, but it is just the size of a bowling green, which is what used to be there. Quite something then, that this inner city garden grows enough vegetables to supply the market day every Saturday, as well as weekly self-harvesting.

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Caption: OZCF Farmers Nyatsa  Masalesa and Josephine Fitzmaurice with own-grown pumpkins and heirloom  marrow. Photo credit Sheryl OzinskyCaption: OZCF Volunteers, Angela Storey and Marion Penso helping at the market day every Saturday from 9am to 2pm. Photo credit Sheryl OzinskyCaption: OZCF Volunteer Nicola Rabkin helping a visitor with the self harvest – Wednesdays from 4-6pm weather dependent Fresh Produce Market picture Coco Van Oppens

After some years of planning, the farm and market have been up and running for about a year. A neighbourhood non-profit project celebrating local food and community, it relies heavily on the work of volunteers, so anyone can get involved. Whether it’s moving wheelbarrows of fertiliser, tending the plants, or saving your veggie peelings from home for the compost heap, every little bit helps.

The vision, goals and mission are many, and you can read more about them on the farm’s website. Likewise the history of the location. This is interesting though: “The site comprises part of the original farm, Oranje Zigt, established in 1709, and which became the largest farm in the Upper Table Valley in the 19th century. Fed by a cluster of springs that provided perennial fresh water to Khoekhoen (Khoi) pastoralists, as well as to sailors and the Company’s Garden from the 17th century, this farm grew vegetables and fruit that fed the growing settlement and colony, and supplied passing ships with essential produce to the turn of the 20th century. Swallowed by urban expansion, the productive farmlands were converted to a housing syndicate in 1901, and the original homestead standing on the site was demolished in 1957 to construct a bowling green, which fell into disuse and neglect in recent decades.”

Apparently not the hot spot it once was. But why is it important to have something like this in the City Bowl, and not in more needy communities?

Actually, there are already several urban agriculture and community garden projects in neighbourhoods across Cape Town, some of which have their produce sold at market day as well.

Residents of more affluent suburbs, like those in the City Bowl, tend to be more disconnected from their neighbours, so a project like this nurtures a sense of community, promotes healthy food and healthy eating, and teaches children – and adults – about sustainable farming, environmental impact, and how waste is handled.

All very serious stuff for a Fun Finder page.

The market every Saturday from 9am to 2pm is fun though. It’s small, but busy. Those people come there knowing exactly what they want. In the interests of a diminished carbon footprint, you take your own bags and baskets and stock up on what is fresh and seasonal.

I was thrilled to find courgette flowers, but the old Greek man at my local corner café was less impressed since his mother used to grow them and feed them to him for lunch. He did tell me how to cook them though, as best as he could recall.

Besides the veggies there are stalls selling food, like Con Amici which makes a Middle Eastern vegetarian breakfast of shakshuka (eggs, tomatoes and other vegetables) served with a hunk of soft Turkish bread and fresh herbs from the farm.

I suspect it is spicy.

Later in the day they serve vegetarian paella, and “cicchetti” (tapas).

There is a raw food stall (I still don’t understand that when it wanders beyond salad and into cake territory, but it looked jolly nice), honeys, nuts, lots and lots of prickly pears, coffee from Tamboerswinkel, flowers, breads, chocolate, and more.

The market is held in a park so children, and dogs on leashes are welcome. If you want to pick your own stuff, you can do so every Wednesday between 4 and 6pm (weather permitting) with the help of an OZCF volunteer.

l For more info and to find out how to get involved go to and like on Facebook (a well maintained and regularly updated page), and follow on Twitter. - Weekend Argus

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