Johannesburg activities – a farming walking tour

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Johannesburg may be a concrete jungle, but in more recent times, a new movement of individuals and organisations are transforming pockets of the city into green oases. I made this discovery when I joined an inner-city urban farming walking tour with Charlie Moyo from Joburg Places a while ago, one of the fun activities Johannesburg has to offer. 

I recently rediscovered the tour photos and decided to take a trip down memory lane by writing this post. To me, a walking tour with an experienced guide is the best way to explore the city, especially if you are looking for new things to do in Johannesburg. 

This excursion is a brilliant option for a half-day tour in Johannesburg, and what better way to explore the city than by walking? It is a great option to enjoy the architecture, people, spaces, history and city vibe. 

Johannesburg Culinary & Pastry School, Marshalltown

Charlie Moyo from Joburg Places at the Johannesburg Culinary & Pastry School hydroponic setup

Our first stop was at the Johannesburg Culinary & Pastry School. As we entered through the doors of this historic building on the first stop of our Johannesburg walking tour, it was abuzz with activity. This school is about more than just cooking.

The culinary students grow herbs and veggies to use in their dishes. Apart from pots on various balconies, their small hydroponic system grows a variety of fresh produce. Hydroponic growing relies on water and nutrients flowing through plant roots, so you don’t need any soil or much space to grow food. Hydroponics is therefore ideal for small spaces and even rooftops.

Keep in mind: If you are looking for things to do in Johannesburg outside the tour, the Johannesburg Culinary & Pastry School is also an option to grab something to eat. You can visit them in your own time. 

JF Rooftop Farm, Braamfontein

The next stop on this Johannesburg city tour is a true hidden gem. It is a small nursery and refreshment spot hidden behind the Kalashnikov gallery. Whether you need to add greenery to your living room in the form of a delicious monster, need some gardening advice, or simply need a ‘tea break’, JFF Rooftop Farm offers it all. The little nursery sells refreshments so you can get your caffeine fix away from the large crowds. They also sell deliciously healthy smoothies made from all-natural goodness. 

The team working at JFF Rooftop Farm is passionate about plants, so they will give tips and share gardening advice too. You can do this during your walking tour, or even afterwards through their social media channels. Climbing onto a hidden rooftop and visiting JFF Rooftop Farm is one of those fun activities in Johannesburg, a different experience.

To keep in mind: Wear comfy clothes as you will have to climb a narrow ladder to reach the rooftop. People with mobility issues can’t add this activity in Johannesburg to their list as climbing is required.

Outreach Foundation, Hillbrow

The next stop on our tour was an interesting one. The scene changed dramatically when we exited the Reya Vaya bus in Hillbrow. There was litter strewn all over and water gushing from the sidewalk, but Charlie made us feel at ease. Luckily it was only a short walk to the Outreach Foundation. The property is a haven for many residents, offering help in various forms, including new skills development.

At the Outreach Foundation

Their rooftop is home to a thriving hydroponic system installed by the Urban Agriculture Initiative. When we visited the property during our walking tour, the celery and spring onions stood like hair on a dog back. They told us they sell their produce at the Johannesburg City Deep market and distribute some to the community. There were talks about a beginner cooking class down the pipeline.

Bertrams Inner City Farm, Ellispark

Refiloe Molefe shows off some of her Swiss chard.

Anyone with a love of gardening and eating healthy should add this location to their list of activities in Johannesburg not to be missed. We met one of the most inspiring women at the last stop of the tour – Refiloe Molefe. Mama Fifi as she is affectionately known started her farm on what used to be a bowling lawn, right across the way from Ellispark Stadium. It took some time to convince the right people to use the land efficiently and help the community, but her patience and perseverance paid off. She boasts not only numerous awards but also a thriving farming environment. The public can pop in and support her, even selecting the greenery of their choice from the garden.

Molefe feeds many children and less fortunate people in the local community from her garden. More than 100 people benefit from her efforts. Her products, including fresh herb bread and health drinks, are available at markets. These include the Fourways Farmers Market and Bryanston Organic Market.

Stop looking for things to do in Johannesburg right now. Book your tour now via email: gerald@joburgplaces.com or send a WhatsApp to 082 894 5216. Joburg Places also conduct private walking tours of the city should you want to enjoy an exclusive experience with your small group. 

Joburg Places also offers various other options, such as a viewpoints and watering holes tour, a Fashion district & Little Addis tour, and a Money, Banks and Vaults tour to name a few. Don’t miss their famous Storytelling Dinners. See their upcoming schedule of events here.

Have you ever joined a Johannesburg walking tour with Joburg Places or any other providers in the city? How was your experience? Remember to share your experiences in the comments below! 

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