Healthier and low-cost food alternatives for Wits students and staff.

Second-year Bachelor of Arts student Joy Tlakula, left front, buys vegetables from a small-scale farmer at the Wits Farmers’ Market outside the Sanctuary Building on Friday, April 26. Photo: Imaan Moosa

The Wits Food Sovereignty centre hosted their second farmers’ market of the year on Friday, April 26 outside the Sanctuary Building on East Campus.

The market has been set up to to provide staff and students with healthier food alternatives at a lower cost through the sale of fresh produce and products from small-scale farmers operating in the Joburg inner city. 

“Some people cannot afford [fruit and vegetables] so at least at the end of the day, we can have our own Woolworths and our own Fruit & Veg [City],” said Antoinette Ponki Madibe,one of the farmers at the market.

Madibe is involved in the agro-processing sector which involves the transformation of raw materials from agriculture, forestry and fisheries. Madibe began agro-processing to “give back to my community”. 

“The government says we can’t feed the nation because we’re too small. We have customers,” said Violet Phala, otherwise known as Mama Vi, who is a herb and vegetable farmer. Phala supplies her produce to Jackson’s Real Food Market, Fruits and Roots, Thrupps Illovo Centre, Urban Foods and Organic Emporium.

Jane Cherry, executive manager of COPAC, said the purpose of the market was “to build a pathway for food sovereignty, an alternative to the current corporate food system where profits go to the supermarkets instead of the farmers”.

”We try to be as cheap as possible to make it as affordable as possible. It is very clean and healthy,” said Robert Mutero, a farmer based at the National School of the Arts in Braamfontein.

The food sovereignty centre is a collaborative project launched by student organisation Inala, the Wits Community Citizenship and Outreach (WCCO) programme and the Co-operative and Policy Alternative Centre (COPAC), a non-governmental organisation which to offer sustainable solutions to hunger on campus. The farmers’ market is expected to take place every few months.