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Urban Agriculture, Social Enterprise and Box Schemes in Cape Town

By Amy Thom and Beatrice Conradie


The social benefits of urban agriculture, such as improving food security, developing a sense of community and promoting ecological conservation, are well documented in the literature and in practice. However, in order to contribute to sustainable economic development, urban agriculture must also present viable business opportunities. This study set forth fresh produce box schemes operated via a social enterprise model as a context-appropriate, economically viable business opportunity for promoting inclusive socioeconomic development. Using mixed-methods, three box scheme business models were compared and a survey of 354 current subscribers to box schemes in Cape Town was analysed. Qualitative analysis of the box scheme models reveals potential strengths and weaknesses of each enterprise. Survey results presented here indicate that participating households source half their fresh produce and a quarter of their groceries overall from box schemes, demonstrating consumer demand and establishing a market. The survey data further show the social enterprise box scheme to capture a competitive portion of this market and deliver as much consumer satisfaction as other business models, suggesting that this type of enterprise can hold its own in the market. The findings presented in this paper suggest that a social enterprise box scheme is a viable model for urban agriculture-related socioeconomic development in Cape Town

Publisher: University of Cape Town
Year: 2016
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