RUAF Foundation

The RUAF Foundation is an international network of resource centres designed to help urban agriculture farmers succeed. The organisation began by developing a network so the farmers can share their ideas, successes, and failures with each other. Since urban agriculture is new, these farmers can utilize as much education and help as is available. The foundation has started seven regional resource centres and one international resource centre. These centres provide training, education, and support systems for the farmers. Plots of land around the centres are farmed as a way to generate jobs for low income workers. The foundation provides information on male and female farmers, food security, low income job generation, “From Seed to Table” farming, multi-stakeholder platforms, and reusing and recycling city waste (RUAF Foundation, 2012).

The RUAF Foundation is responsible for numerous urban agriculture projects around the world. One in particular is the “Orti Solidalli” project in Rome. For this project, the RUAF Foundation set up sixty plots of land near their resource centre in Rome. They trained refugees to farm the plots, and they selected sixty reliable subscribers to purchase the produce grown. The gardeners were paid through the subscriber purchases and the subscribers generated an income through selling the goods in a variety of ways (Pasqualotto, 2010). This method of selling goods allows the RUAF Foundation to monitor every step of the production process, from seeding to delivering to the subscribers. This ensures that the produce is high quality and no chemicals or pesticides were used. The marketing process creates numerous jobs by introducing a “middle man.” If the gardeners grew and sold the crops, they would be making a larger sum of money and the produce would be cheaper. However, if this were the case, not nearly as many jobs would be generated. This is a decision that must be grappled with when deciding a marketing scheme for any project. The RUAF Foundation has shown through their programs that they would prefer to give numerous people a little wealth rather than a few people a lot of wealth.

The Abalimi Bezekhaya Siyazama Community Allotment Garden Association (SCAGA) project is an urban agriculture project directed toward helping generate low income jobs. For this project, 5,000 square meters of land were divided it into plots for farmers to work. The RUAF wrestled with the idea of creating jobs in respect to quality or quantity. Weighing their options they found that they could either create three to four permanent full time jobs, or they could provide 30 part-time, smaller jobs; they decided to choose the latter of the two options. The majority of the workers SCAGA selected had no income, so this was seen as substantial to them (Small, 2002).

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