“It is so difficult to find fresh produce in town, especially in a city like Johannesburg and we want to teach people to eat properly and seasonally.”

Two former Wits University students launched a rooftop farm which aims to tackle student hunger on Saturday, August 3. The Jozi Food Farm (JFF) on top of the building on 70 Juta Street, is the first nursery to open in the Braamfontein area. It sells fresh produce, speciality crops, pot plants, fertilisers, micro greens and teas.

Tumelo Machete, who studied accounting science, and Negin Monkoe, a former architecture student, founded the JFF as a company in 2014. They partnered with the Wits Citizenship and Community Outreach and various student volunteers to plant a vegetable garden at Wits in September 2015.

Machete told Wits Vuvuzela that they decided to open the 18sqm rooftop farm as “It is so difficult to find fresh produce in town, especially in a city like Johannesburg and we want to teach people to eat properly and seasonally.”

Monkoe added that, “We want to eliminate our carbon footprint as much as possible and keep things as fresh as possible, and as local as possible. That really is our goal and that is what we plan to do.”

The urban garden will be used to teach local residents to grow the food for themselves and how to take care of the farm itself. The farm will be open to the university community to use the resources at the garden to conduct research.

In a few weeks, they plan to open a tea bar, which can also be hired to host art events.

Jabu Mdluli, co-owner of a local café on Juta Street, told Wits Vuvuzela that his business started buying mint and lettuce from [JFF Rooftop Farm] in July.

“We buy from the farm because it is close to our shop. They sell organic produce, the pricing is decent, and it is also a way of a black business supporting a black business,” said Mdluli.

Machete and Monkoe say they intend to extend the idea of the rooftop farm to other buildings around Johannesburg.

FEATURED IMAGE: Tumelo Machete and Negin Monkoe in their Rooftop Garden. Photo: Lineo Leteba 

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