The Department of Agriculture presented a successful farmer’s day for vegetable farmers recently. About 60 small-scale farmers and prospective farmers attended the event.
Dr Ian Godie from Nooitgedacht Fresh Produce talked about the origin, growth and current state of affairs of the hydroponic farm at Bredasdorp Park. The project was started in September 2019 as a demonstration project for Nampo Cape. The first direct delivery of products to the local markets started in November 2021. Today the farm covers about half a hectare, of which just under half is sheltered planting area. Between 500kg and 1 000kg of produce is produced monthly, consisting mainly of cherry tomatoes, lettuces, herbs and spinach. Dr Goldie played the realities against the opportunities to assist would-be farmers when they embark on the same projects.
Byron Booysen from Booysen Tunnel Farming in Kraaifontein shared his experience with tunnel farming, as well as the impact it had on his community. Since 2015, this business has grown to seven tunnels. He uses both hydroponics and traditional soil cultivation methods to produce quality products all year round.
Hardie Brink from RealIPM briefed the farmers on integrated disease and pest control, and he also compared the different methods.
Prof Gideon Wolfaard from Stellenbosch University gave an overview of new self-developed monitoring equipment that can be of use in soilless farming.
Debbie Theunissen van Bovenvlei farm shared her experiences as a successful female farmer and gave reasons why it was feasible. Her business, which started in 2010, has grown into one of the largest garnet production farms in South Africa.
The day ended with a visit to the Nooitgedacht tunnels at Bredasdorp Park. Here the farmers could take a closer look at the practical operation of hydroponic farming. Dr Ian Goldie showed them the different materials used to build the hydroponic systems and explained the adjustments that had to be made to address the challenges loadshedding brought.