Stellenbosch Food Security Initiative

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At his installation in 2007 Prof Russel Botman, Rector and Vice-Chancellor, alluded to his vision of a ‘pedagogy of hope’ and a new positioning for Stellenbosch University (SU) as an institution of excellence in the 21st Century. After more than two years of planning and consultation this ‘pedagogy of hope’ started taking form in the University’s Overarching Strategic Plan (OSP). The OSP consists of internal objectives and commitment of funds to realise 5 key themes (combating poverty, promoting human security, human dignity, democracy and environmental sustainability) through 21 OSP Projects.

The Food Security Initiative (FSI) is one of these 21 OSP Projects. The FSI “contributes to the emergence of a resilient, sustainable food system for Southern Africa, by reconceptualising the food security challenge, and creating new models of practice in the food system, through the integration of findings from in-depth research on key issues in the food value chain, collaboration across disciplinary boundaries, capacity building, and systematic impact assessment.” This project initiative is being coordinated by Prof Jimmy Volmink of the Faculty of Health Sciences.
As one of the projects within the OSP Food Security Initiative, the Sustainability Institute has been awarded funding to research food security in the Greater Stellenbosch.

The SI Food Security Initiative co-ordinated within our Sustainable Agriculture theme, by Gareth Haysom. His email address is and he can be contacted on 021 881 3196. The time frame on this project is between August 2009 and December 2010.

The following are areas which we would like to contribute to the Science and Society Food Security strand. If there are links with which you may identify and add – let’s build on them? If there is information you would like, or can contribute – keep on adding…
1. Report on Food Security Policy: national, provincial and local status quo
2. Database of Food Security projects in Stellenbosch Municipal Area (SMA): across boundaries of middle-class and poor
3. Overview of food production, distribution and consumption in SMA
4. Appropriate farming in SMA: agroecological and social justice
5. Nutritional status of SMA: (malnutrition and undernutrition) together with the Dept of Human Nutrition and Healt      h Sciences
6. Study of the local Food Chain: where do retailers source the food they sell? From where do different communities purchase their food? This will be linked to enhancing access, together with Agricultural  Economics
7. Identifying health and nutritional challenges with Dept of Human Nutrition and Health Sciences (malnutrition and under-nutrition; nutritionists in SMA; organic farming; locally grown food; other ways of  knowing)
8. Production and distribution of food in SMA through the lens of climate change
9. Beneficiation: value adding to the produce of farmers in order to increase their revenues

Gareth will be building a networked approach to this project, working with students and other departments wherever possible. Looking for stories, case studies, local experience, he is keen to explore working with existing NGO’s, other organizations and individuals who know this area particularly well, or have specific expertise and indigenous knowledge. He will keep us all posted on progress.

Community Food Security Workshop in the Greater Stellenbosch
8 July 2009 | At the Sustainability Institute

Attended by Stellenbosch Municipality, Western Cape Provincial Government, academics, NGOs, farmers, community groups, Churches and food activists, the workshop discussed the following themes:

Emergent themes to the workshop question:
Local Food: creating health, full stomachs and jobs?

* Food security is not an issue that belongs only with the poor

It would be an error to assume that local food would benefit only the poor. Eating locally may require a shift in middle-class habits (not buying imported products, etc) in order to address questions of land access, health and job creation in our own local space.

 IDEAS: Awareness, education and information – linked to the local marketing of CSA and other local initiatives. Suggestion to take series of photographs (like of families from around the world) from  Stellenbosch households (from middle class to poorest of the poor, including one of ecological living). Kate Schrire, Slow Food Cape Town; Luke Metelerkamp, local photographer and student; ??

* The difference between malnutrition and under-nutrition

It is clear that malnourished children pay the cost of that burden for the rest of their lives in terms of their physical and mental development. What is not always so clear is that obesity, or overweight, adults and children can be under-nourished due to the lack of nutrition in what they are eating. Health is a socioecological issue – local, nutritious food may add to the well-being of those of us who are HIV positive, malnourished and hungry AS WELL AS those of us who eat a bit too much fast-food, instant meals, highly processed ingredients etc.

 IDEAS: Educational campaign with students, schools, retailers? Dept of Human Nutrition, University of Stellenbosch; local nutritionists; ??

* Community Supported Agriculture – is this a way of supporting local, sustainable agriculture in a way that builds access to land, jobs and lower cost, nutritious food?

Building a network of purchasers who are willing to ‘know their farmer’, share some of the risk, pay upfront for their supply of vegetables and collect their box from a drop-off point may be a key way to build the revenue that actually reaches the farmer, with financial models that may assist in making small farming viable.

 IDEAS: Marketing CSAs. Depts of Fine Arts and Visual Communication, University of Stellenbosch; journalists; local entrepreneurs, ??

* Inequity – stark reminders of Stellenbosch’s hungry

One NGO, Voedingsaksie, is feeding around 2500 people daily in their soup kitchens. Is there a way such a large network could also support locally grown food? How can we further support the work that they are doing?

 IDEAS: Network of local businesses and individuals interested in supporting Sustainable Stellenbosch?

* The amount Stellenbosch Municipality is actually doing, and involved in

Among many other things, Community Services of the SM is responsible for the Food Gardens, and has extremely useful information and connections.

 IDEAS: Food Security Action Group

* Food gardens – these require access to advice and resources, not just money

How do we build this kind of access?

 IDEAS: Working closely with local Municipality, the Dept of Agriculture and experienced NGOs (e.g. Theo from SEED) to support local food gardens. Hanlie Linde & team; Dirk Troskie & team; SEED & other local NGOs; ??
 Please email the Dept of Agriculture if you have any information about local food gardens for their food garden GIS database.

* Value chain – how much does the farmer actually get?

How can we as a community build relationships with the local food systems that ensure farmers get a fair price for their produce and consumers have access to nutritional produce at fair prices?

 IDEAS: Supporting and strengthening local food markets, cooperatives (both farmer and consumer models), CSAs etc – building a local food movement.

* Safety – how safe is our food?

We don’t make the necessary connections between poor food / water safety and the related health impacts. How do we access information about the state of our food and water safety to make informed choices? What are the alternatives and options? How do we support local, organic, small scale farmers and ensure food safety?

 IDEAS: Take suggestions from Jo Barnes and Trevor Britz (University of Stellenbosch) on how to promote food and water safety through community collaboration in Stellenbosch

* Access to land

Land reform is not just about big farms, but also about communities accessing land for small scale food gardens and other agricultural micro-enterprises. What creative partnerships can we build to make real land reform that works happen in the greater Stellenbosch?

 IDEAS: Women on Farms to approach commercial farmers about partnerships for land reform, with Stellenbosch Municipality (Hanlie Linde & team) & Dept of Agriculture (Dirk Troskie & team)

* Food is a web – connectedness to water, health and well-being, waste

We need to be aware of the impacts of the food system on our communities and our supporting natural environment. How do we become aware of these impacts? How do we increase awareness about alternatives that promote food security, healthier environments and happier communities?

 IDEAS: link Food Security to Waste, Water, Energy, Health and Wellbeing Science & Society strands; …

The attendees of the workshop are involved in fascinating work. In one way or another, the importance of the Science and Society Food Security strand is to mobilise us to form some form of movement around this core issue for the Greater Stellenbosch.

To this end, the Sustainability Institute is putting forward our own Food Security Initiative in the hope that the different facets may add value and contribute to LOCAL FOOD: CREATING HEALTH, FULL TUMMIES AND JOBS?