Khaya green entrepreneur on a greening quest

Siyabulela Sokomani, the founder of Township Farmers.

When close to 20 000 athletes line up for the Cape Town Marathon on Sunday September 15, not all will be focusing on getting top honours or a personal best, but will be pounding the tar as they #run4change and raise funds for various organisations.

Khayelitsha green entrepreneur Siyabulela Sokomani, the founder of Township Farmers, will run 42km with a tree strapped to his back.

But why?

“Township Farmers SA, is a non-profit organisation that I founded in 2017 to bring awareness to three issues that are close and dear to my heart: food insecurity, environmental protection and conservation plus the sustainable community development,” said Siyabulela.

This will not be the first time Siyabulela runs green. In 2017
he raised enough money to
plant 72 trees in Khayelitsha after running the Sanlam Cape Town Marathon and in the same year he criss-crossed Soweto planting 42 trees.

Working closely with his partner and co-founder of Township Farmers SA, Ondela Manjezi, the two are planning to make more success out of this year’s campaign.

Ondela said last year they planted 220 trees around Khayelitsha. Through Township Farmers’ running tree campaign, they have raised and planted more than 2 000 trees across South Africa’s townships from Jabavu, Soweto to J section, Khayelitsha.

“This is our attempt to change the township landscape and re-imagine the narrative of the dusty township streets, as it no longer is relevant to the energetic go-getters and dreamers that the township raises every day,” Ondela told Vukani.

But, she said, they were not only about trees. They have also started sustainable gardens in orphanages and creches in the area. As township farmers, they are passionate about ending child hunger in black communities.

“Township Farmers creates sustainable organic gardens in townships. The focus is on creating these gardens in early childhood development (ECD) centres and orphanages.

“In ECDs for example, there is a need for nutritional foods for children in creches who sometimes don’t even have enough food at home, so we teach teachers how to grow and prepare food,” she explained.

This filters through to education about what nutrients are needed most for which age group and why, while maintaining the organic vegetable garden within the premises of the ECD centre. Their ambitious goal for this year’s Cape Town Marathon campaign is to raise enough money to plant 2019 trees and earlier this month they were revealed as one of the official participating charities.

“We have dared our friends and family to take part in the 42km and 10km race and help us bring the green to the greenest marathon in Africa. A moving forest consisting of 19 runners each will be on the road raising awareness of the effects of climate change, deforestation in Africa how it impacts sustainable development, the development of the girl child and food security,” said Ondela.

“In an attempt to have Khayelitsha named as the greenest township in Mzansi, the 2019 trees raised will be planted in Khayelitsha schools and neighbourhoods.

“For as little as R70 you can donate towards this dream and help us make history.”

To support Siyabulela, visit www.givengain.com/c/townshipfarmerssa/

To know more on how you can get involved, like and follow their social media pages or email us on info@townshipfarmers.org

Instagram: @townshipfarmers Facebook: web.facebook.com/townshipfarmers/