A dumping ground where women were regularly being raped and guns hidden has changed the lives of people in Alexandra after it was turned into an urban farming cooperative.
Violet Phala Mabaso, 57, who was unemployed before she became a farmer in 2015, said the women of Alexandra wanted to prevent violent crimes in the area and also provide food security. "I have been able to feed my children and put my grandchildren through private schools because of the success of my farm," she said.
The bubbly businesswoman said her 1hectare farm, Molobanyane, now have chilli pepper, herbs, onions, beetroot and vegetables. She had since hired two people to work at the farm. In March she won R40000 at the Land Care awards hosted by the national department of agriculture forestry and fisheries.
"What I need now is more land to create more jobs and grow more vegetables."
Mabaso is known in the community for selling packaged dried herbs. She said her dried chilli is one of the most popular products.
It was at this cooperative in 2015 that Fazlur Pandor and his business partner Rogan Field met the founders and began buying some of their produce to sell to a wider market.
The two founded Urban Fresh, which sells fresh produce all over Gauteng to small shops such as the Munching Mongoose, Fruits and Roots, and Fresh Earth.
Now Mabaso's herbs are also found at top restaurants in Sandton. "We saw a gap in the market. A lot of urban farmers have nowhere to sell their produce except to their communities," Pandor said.