A tunnel with vertical growing towers

We are proud to introduce HandPicked CityFarms Kenilworth Centre! On 23 November, our HandPicked agriskills development programme took an exciting leap into new territory, with the launch of the first retail urban rooftop farm in the Western Cape. 

The project will train and create 24 agripreneurs per year, directly linking them to agroprocessing in the nearby Langa community and creating a circular economy that stimulates informal economic opportunities and promotes local food security.  

In this first phase of the project, 1 152 herbs and vegetables will be planted under tunnels on the rooftop; expanding to 11 136 plants by the end of Phase 3. 

“This private sector partnership aims to upskill youth to develop an agricultural business in an urban environment. It is poised to offer youth from Langa, who are often excluded from the formal economy, an opportunity to join the informal economy and break away from poverty and hunger,” said David Churchman, head of Mr Price Foundation’s HandPicked programme.  

The ribbon-cutting ceremony was attended by our visionary private-sector partners in this project: Redefine Properties, Fresh Life Produce, SA Urban Food & Farming Trust / Oranjezicht City Farm, and the Black City Farm Project in Langa; as well as the City of Cape Town executive mayor and head of economic growth, and many other amazing friends and partners, including from Mr Price Group, Yuppiechef and Veldskoen.  

Redefine Properties, the landlord of Kenilworth Centre, will donate the rooftop space. Anelisa Keke, chief sustainability officer at Redefine, said: “We believe this project will set an example of how landlords can change the way retail properties are managed and developed so that lives, communities and the environment are impacted positively.”  

Two unemployed youth from Langa will be trained each month. The interns will learn the basics of hydroponic tunnel farming, planning and controlling, as well as the use of the African Grower technology that is installed in the tunnels. This technology consists of hanging towers of stacked growing pods, with each tower capable of growing 16 to 24 plants. 

The HandPicked CityFarm Kenilworth Centre will be run by Akhona Gxuluwe, supported by two interns from Langa per month.

Akhona Gxuluwe will run HandPicked CityFarms Kenilworth Centre, supported by two interns from Langa each month.

“At the end of their training period, each intern will receive a mini household growing tunnel.  This enables them to kickstart their agripreneur journey and become part of a community of home growers who produce chillies for iKhaya Le Langa, an organisation in Langa that produces a fiery chilli sauce called iChilli Le Langa,” said Louis-Gillis Janse van Rensburg, founder of Fresh Life Produce and the African Grower.

iChilli Le Langa will utilise the offtake of certain crops, such as chillies, in the production of its sauce range, creating an opportunity for the home grower to generate revenue and move from consumers to producers. Restaurants at Kenilworth Centre can also purchase fresh produce from the farm; and kiosks will be allocated to sell produce to customers. The crop will also be donated to two to three local NGOs each month. 

“What a wonderful way of building a truly circular economy, and involving the most excluded and often poorest communities in our city into the agricultural value chain, turning people who are otherwise unemployed or underemployed into productive farming entrepreneurs,” said Cape Town executive mayor Geordin Hill-Lewis.  

Clockwise: Redefine board member Sipho Pityana, City of Cape Town head of economic growth alderman James Vos, head of HandPicked David Churchman, head of Mr Price Foundation Karen Wells, Fresh Life Produce founder Louis-Gillis Janse van Rensburg, and City of Cape Town executive mayor Geordin Hill-Lewis.

City of Cape Town head of economic growth, alderman James Vos, said partnerships like these present new opportunities for business and communities to connect to new key markets.  

“I’ll never again look at a rooftop as just a flat space. I’ll see it now as a place of innovation and of new opportunities. I’m going to do more projects with fresh produce on rooftops, and much more solar farms on rooftops, because that’s how we will connect Cape Town to new markets so that we can make the unemployment queue shorter,” said James.   

We thank our partners for their vision, passion and determination to bring this project to life, and for working together to create innovative solutions to youth unemployment and hunger. 

Support HandPicked and help grow our community of agripreneurs