Training is critical to the success of any person in any occupation and urban farming is no different. Farmers have to be trained, and the quality of training determines the success of the farm. There are various ways of providing an individual with the necessary knowledge to farm effectively. Techniques include but aren’t limited to games, training manuals, and on the job practice. The effectiveness of the training is based on the user, which is why multiple training options should be available to trainees.

Tufts University has an initiative for sustainable farming in Massachusetts, the New Entry Sustainable Farming Project. This project’s main goal is to provide new farmers with the necessary training and resources to be successful in their agricultural venture. Tufts provides the farmers with workshops to get hands on experience, with training manuals that are easy to read, and with courses for the development of the farmer. One of the more unique aspects of the program is their use of plain language training manuals. These manuals convey information in a way that reduces confusion so the trainees understand the information. The technique involves highlighting only what is necessary and reducing unclear details. Training workers in South Africa may pose a challenge because of literacy and language barriers. Confusion can be reduced if the information is presented in a “plain language” fashion (2010).

The manuals cover a variety of subjects from harvesting crops to securing farmland in Massachusetts. Some of the manuals are not applicable to South Africa but still could be valuable to the gardeners. The training from the New Entry Project is not composed of just the manuals; the manuals supplement workshops for the farmers.

Abalimi Bezekhaya is another group working to improve the lives and success of novice farmers. This group, just like Tufts University, provides courses and training for low income individuals who are trying to grow and market produce. The Abalimi group recognizes that a very low literacy rate exists in the Cape Flats. They present critical agricultural practices in a non-literary way utilizing a game called “Agriplanner”. This game was designed by the South African Institute of Entrepreneurs. The game is a fun and unique way to convey the necessary information to the prospective urban farmer. The Agriplanner game teaches farming and marketing techniques. Shirley Dunn with Giving Global gives a personal account of the success of a woman named Mrs Bokolo who through her training is able to support herself (2006).

The South African Institute for Entrepreneurs also produces a secondary game that could be useful to the project, titled BEST Game. This game focuses on real world business and markets practices. The game is played similarly to Agriplanner but there are no harvest and land aspects in the game. The game consists of eight sessions designed to be played in four to five hours session. The game would be a good supplement to the Agriplanner game’s business and marketing aspect.

A major theme seen through all of these methods of training is that the organization will provide the resources but it depends on the worker to put the effort into generating income sustainably.  This training provides information with sustainable practice, if followed correctly the worker can own and operate a sustainable business. There is no giving of jobs or land in the project. It is the worker’s responsibility to secure these things for themselves. With this personal accountability, the worker will be more responsible for their actions.

It is important to remember that the potential garden workers may have varying backgrounds and educational skill levels. When developing a training manual or method to teach agricultural practices, it is important to keep practices similar to those implemented by Tufts University and the Abalimi Bezekhaya group in mind. It is crucial to remember that people learn in different ways and the best way to ensure that each person reaches their full potential.

Forward to Preparation Phase References

Back to RUAF Foundation

Back to Methodology

Back to Homepage