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A Market for the People

Cape Town's Oranjezicht City Farm (OZCF) Market is cultivating community and nourishing souls.

Words by Russel Wasserfall  //  Pictures by Stefan Weiss

When Sheryl Ozinsky turned an abandoned bowling green in her Cape Town neighbourhood into a little urban farm, she had no idea it would become a world-renowned food market. She didn’t even like going to markets. 


Initially Oranjezicht City Farm was about community safety. Crime in the suburb or Oranjezicht was problematic, and residents living behind high walls did not have a sense of community or a space in which they could connect and start conversations about what was happening around them. Ozinsky saw the garden as a way to get people out and working together, discussing the activities of citizen patrols and a Neighbourhood Watch organisation. 

A little market sprung up, selling produce from the garden on Saturdays. As it was a volunteer project, they needed whatever income they could generate for seeds and equipment, and the community came out in force to support them. In fact OZCF Market became so busy it had to relocate due to the pressure of cars and people as the idea lit a fire in communities all over Cape Town. It has occupied its current home at Granger Bay in the Victoria & Alfred Waterfront since  2017 and is popular with both locals and tourists.


The fresh produce stall is the heart of the market and offers the best peak-season produce available anywhere in the city.

The Oranjezicht neighbourhood became safe again, the farm on its former bowling green still operates and supplies the Market. The project achieved what it set out to do, but there’s something more. People started to love having access to fresh food and food they felt a connection to because it was grown on their doorstep. Because it was organic and healthy the issue of people having access to sustainably grown, nourishing food started playing on Ozinsky’s mind. 


She and her partner Caz Friedman put strict measures in place to ensure that produce was organic small growers and farmers earning a fair price for their produce. The market is therefore more than just a place to buy fresh produce it is a manifestation of their passion for urban farming and food security. It connects suburbanites with a network of urban and rural sustainable farming initiatives and ensures that people know not only where their food comes from, but also who grows it.

While the fresh produce stall is the heart of the market, there are now around a hundred other vendors. They range from coffee roasters and bakers to talented local cooks. The same rigorous conditions apply to the food stalls as to the fresh produce. It needs to be of an excellent and consistent quality, based on the cook’s deep knowledge of food and sourcing ingredients from organic or sustainable small businesses.

OZCF Market is always buzzing with conversation as the community it has created comes together to enjoy wonderful food and entertainment.

The market's role in building community cannot be overstated. Each weekend, and at the Wednesday night markets in Summer, the place is packed. A criticism has been levelled at OZCF that it caters to privileged suburbanites. But while it is certainly frequented by well-heeled locals and tourists, the market directly benefits small and emerging farmers and producers by paying them well and providing direct access to a busy retail outlet for their goods. (The market sees as many as 15,000 visitors a week in season.)


While the market may cater to a more privileged clientele, its impact extends far beyond the stalls. By promoting sustainable farming practices and supporting local producers, the market is helping to create a more equitable food system for all Capetonians.

South African writer, photographer and editor Russel Wasserfall has worked in the media space for over 35 years. His work is mainly in the arenas of food and travel and has appeared in more than twenty books and dozens of magazines. Wasserfall has run bars and restaurants, including his award-winning South African restaurant The Table at De Meye, and consults to restaurant start-ups on innovative food concepts. He runs a weekly podcast on the restaurant and food scene in his Cape Town home called A Table in the Corner.

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