Your piece of land – a potential land of opportunity

With the help of the People’s Tunnel, you could turn your piece of rural or urban land into a smallholder farm that produces fresh veggies to help feed both your family and community, and even start selling to local markets.

The People’s Tunnel is brough to you by Booysen’s Tunnel Farm, a small-scale farm owned and run by Byron Booysen in Kraaifontein, Western Cape. The farm is operated on 1.7 hectares of land and currently has seven tunnels in which a variety of herbs and vegetables are grown through a combination of traditional soil cultivation and hydroponic methods.

Even though Byron always dreamed about it, he didn’t have much prior experience of being a farmer, as life first took him down an entirely different path. He earned a degree in Sports Science and then completed a diploma in Ethics. It was while studying ethics, that he was reminded of the significance of food security and finally returned to his lifelong dream, with the help of the Western Cape Department of Agriculture.

Today, Booysen’s Tunnel Farm successfully supplies produce such as tomatoes, beans, spinach, peppers, chillies, turnips and fresh herbs to retail and wholesale markets in the greater northern suburbs of Cape Town. In addition, Byron has taken everything he has learnt through trial and error over the years and turned it into a goldmine of knowledge for others.

Enter the People’s Tunnel, a low-cost model that makes it possible for anyone with a piece of land to start producing high-quality fresh produce all year round with minimum resources and minimal impact on the environment. A critical cornerstone of this tried-and-tested model is that it aims to eliminate pests that can prevent your crops from growing, while relying on as little chemical fertilisers and pesticides as possible.

To this end, it is important to work with partners like Villa Crop Protection, who has been providing crop protection solutions to emerging and commercial farmers in South Africa for decades. Magunya Kalimashe from Villa Crop Protection believes impact should be a deciding factor when we choose crop protection products and solutions.

“We must consider the impact on the health of the people who apply these products to our crops, and we must consider how it impacts our environment, as this in turn impacts the overall sustainability of our agricultural sector,” he states. In keeping with the way of the People’s Tunnel, one can also lessen the volumes of crop protection products you use by mixing and applying it correctly.

When applying a spraying mixture, for example, you need to make sure that as much of it as possible goes straight to the target and that it is absorbed properly, without too much of it evaporating in the process. To this end, you should consider the droplet size, the equipment you use, and what the weather conditions are like during the time of application.  

Magunya advises aspiring growers or farmers of fresh produce to harness the power of adjuvants, such as Villa’s Interlock, to enhance the efficacy and performance of crop protection products. Fortunately, whether you know all about crop protection or not is beside the point, as Villa Crop Protection offers extensive support and training. For more info, simply go to https://www.villacrop.co.za/

Similarly, whether you know all about farming or not is irrelevant if you want to become a farmer of some sorts, as all you really need is a passion for farming and the willingness to learn. Byron Booysen’s story is testimony to exactly that. To learn about how the People’s Tunnel can help you heed the call of your inner farmer, simply go to https://booysens-agri.co.za/. Follow @NicheFarmers on Facebook to share and learn with other niche farmers.