Explore Jozi’s urban farming spaces with this fun tour

Ma Refiloe of the Bertrams Inner City Farm.
Ma Refiloe of the Bertrams Inner City Farm.
Image: Sanet Oberholzer

When you think of the city of Johannesburg, a picture of lush, sprawling gardens is not the first thing that comes to mind. But if you ask Franck Leya, he’ll tell you that you’re sorely mistaken.

Leya co-founded Honest Travel Experiences with Zanengcebo Mtembu in 2018, with the goal of making travel inclusive and affordable. “On our website the first thing you see are the words ‘bona fide’ experiences, which means ‘genuine and real’. That is the kind of experience we want to give every person who comes on our tours,” Leya says.

Since 2018 the company has grown and now offers a total of nine experiences in Joburg. They opened a branch in Cape Town last year and are planning on opening one in Durban and another in Kenya in the near future.

Their latest offering, an organic experience of Joburg, kicked off in November last year and offers a glimpse into some of the sustainable urban farming spaces around the city. At each stop, you can find out how the projects came about and buy fresh produce to cook at home.

“We’re not trying to convert anyone to be a vegan,” Leya says. “It’s to create awareness around how little it actually takes for you to start growing your own food and just to become a little bit more responsible about what you consume.”

For the time being they’re only offering private tours. The tour is normally done using a shuttle but they’re now offering the tour on bicycles, which is a new, Covid-friendly option.

The first stop of the tour is the GreenHouse Project in Joubert Park, a hub of environmental sustainability where they grow organic food and herbs, provide a space for recyclers to work and offer environmental education and "green" school tours.

Next, the tour explores Victoria Yards in Lorentzville. Here, you can walk through the flourishing gardens and learn about their plans of extending the food gardens into the surrounding community. The third stop on the tour is Bertrams Inner City Farm where Refiloe Molefe has been growing food to feed the community for the past 17 years. Deciding to tackle the problem of hunger head-on, Molefe converted a bowling green into the farm that now feeds 1,400 people a day.

One can end off the tour with a home-cooked meal from the kitchen of chef Nonhlanhla Godole, who shows you how to cook with the organic produce you might have picked up along the way. After retiring as a pharmacist in 2019 to follow her calling of becoming a healer, Godole now lives out her passions of food and cooking.

You can choose to skip the meal and opt for a cheaper tour but this is really the cherry on top as one leaves feeling happy, healthy and satisfied in every sense.


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