Abalimi started in 1982 as a township food gardening project of Catholic Welfare and Development (CWD) in Cape Town. Seven years later – in 1989 – it became an independent organization. Two Garden Centre nurseries were established in Nyanga (1985) and Khayelitsha (1989).
Since 2004 Abalimi is based in Philippi, a township between Nyanga and Khayelitsha, its main areas of operation. In 2008 Abalimi started Harvest of Hope (HoH), a box marketing scheme which sells the vegetables produced by so called micro-farmers from the community gardens to customers in mainly white, well-off suburbs.
Over three decades Abalimi grew into a substantial NGO supporting thousands of home gardens and many community gardens with training, fieldwork support, and subsidised resources. Abalimi has three main projects:
- Resource Support for Home Gardeners (through the Garden Centres)
- Harvest of Hope (social business for micro farmers)
- Youth Apprenticeship (at a training centre in Khayelitsha)
At the Garden Centres Abalimi offers potential home gardeners with basic training courses (4-day organic vegetable gardening course). The participants (many of whom are semiliterate or illiterate) get the basic knowledge and skills to begin their own vegetable gardens.
The courses are followed up with additional on-site training and support. The Centres also provide low cost, subsidised gardening resources such as manure, seed, seedlings, tools and organic pest control remedies to individual gardeners, groups and organisations.
Harvest of Hope (HoH) provides freshly packed, organically grown vegetables, produced to the highest standards, with love and care. All vegetables are grown in community gardens of Cape Town’s townships. The community-garden micro-farming groups are typically made up of 3 to 8 farmers. Most of the growers are women – pillars of strength in their families and neighbourhoods. They harvest every Tuesday morning and then the HOH-boxes are packed and delivered to the customers on the same day. At the moment 450 boxes are produced weekly and generate an income for about 100 families of micro-farmers.
The Youth Apprenticeship Project only started in 2015 and should bring a transition from mostly elderly woman to young men and woman as the new micro farmers. In a group of 10 youth they are trained over a six-month-period in one of the biggest community gardens to become self sustained gardeners and generate their own income after the training.
Abalimi Project Pictures