Growing Grapes In Cities

Last week PBS had a show about how residents of some townships on the outskirts of Cape Town, South Africa are growing grapes to make wine. The grapes will be bought by a cooperative winery also located in the city:  Township Winery.

The PBS’s introduction info and links are below:

Cape Town’s urban vineyard could revitalize the city’s poor

November 24, 2016 at 6:10 PM EST

South Africa is known for its breathtaking vineyards — but the poor urban settlements of Cape Town are not. Yet here, too, farmers are relying on growing grapes to support themselves, in a community where the average annual income is only $1800. The Township Winery represents an experiment that could revolutionize the socio-economics of the city. Special correspondent Martin Seemungal reports.

http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/cape-towns-urban-vineyard-revitalize-citys-poor/

There is a video and transcript for the whole show at this website.

Below are some photos that were snipped from the video.

Aerial photo: The grapes will be grown in the circles of the yard with a fences on 3 sides. The blue spot is the home owner digging. Homes of 1 or 2 floors surround the area.
Aerial photo: The grapes will be grown in the circles of the yard with a fences on 3 sides. The blue spot is the home owner digging. Homes of 1 or 2 floors surround the area.
Mr. Manelisi Mapukata is digging holes for the new grapes.  He was visible in the previous aerial photo as just a small blue spot.
Mr. Manelisi Mapukata is digging holes for the new grapes. He was visible in the previous aerial photo as just a small blue spot.
A farm helper near cape Town helps to prune grape vines that are more than 3 years old. [from the PBS video]
A farm helper near cape Town helps to prune grape vines that are more than 3 years old. [from the PBS video]

Growing grapes in cities has been done in many places.  In Greece, Italy, and Portugal a small grape trellis next to a home adds charm and shade to the city.  In America there are many neighborhoods where immigrants from the lands along the Mediterranean have built similar grape canopies above their carports –for the home owners it is a hobby (to make wine) and a place to eat outdoors with all the relatives during hot summer days.

In lands where income is scarce, the grapes bring added income to a family.

But everywhere in the world now, water is becoming expensive and hard to find.  Droughts have impacted much of North America this past year –and have done so for many years in other parts of the world.  So why don’t we grow grapes the hydroponic way?  Or with drip irrigation?

Thanks to Google, I found people who have done this. The next posts will highlight some of these innovations.  Let us give credit here and now to one very special pioneer who did it in Toronto Canada, in the small backyard of a rented townhouse. His name is Jeff Chorniak.  A whole post will be dedicated to his venture with hydroponic grapes.

Later, I will post my comments to the PBS show.  These comments outline another way to grow grapes in urban areas, where land is scarce –namely in tall tubes filled with limestone and gravel.

Then, if time permits, I will post the story of one family the has grown grapes in a very densely built city where you would never believe it to be possible –Manhattan, New York.

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