Home News PODCAST: Urban Farmer uses rooftop space in Hillbrow to make a difference

PODCAST: Urban Farmer uses rooftop space in Hillbrow to make a difference

52-year-old urban farmer Sibongile Cele left her full time job as an auditor to farm on rooftops in Jozi


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In the heart of the bustling concrete jungle of Johannesburg lies the residential neighbourhood of Hillbrow. When we imagine this inner-city suburb, we tend to paint a very bleak picture. Marred by violence, drug abuse, prostitution and destitutionthis place is often referred to as a slum by some.   

But one urban farmer, Sibongile Cele, is slowly trying to change the negative narrative associated with the neighbourhood. Cele has managed to create a business, Mcebo Wealth Rooftop Farm, which not only brings a splash of colour to Hillbrow, but also seeks to change the food systems in the inner-city.  

In this week’s Farmer’s Inside Track podcast episodeCele joins co-founder of Food For Mzansi Ivor Price and editor Dawn Noemdoe in studio. In their conversationCele gives insights on the motivation to creating her sustainable vegetable business on a rooftop in Hillbrow 

She says that growing up in Soweto her father played a key role in the inception of community gardens in the area. Her passion for changing food systems, she saysstems from her fathers influence. 

“The passion that grew with us as children growing up in those community gardens in Soweto carried us. It is something that you always take for granted. Then, as you grow older you realize that there is passion.” 

Throughout her discussion Cele also reminds us that farming in its true essence is a task that tests resilience of the spirit.   

“It takes me back to purpose!” she excitedly says. “When you’ve got purpose and vision to see things change, there is tenacity in finishing strong and being the difference that you want to see in the community.” 

A former auditor with Deloitte, Cele started the initiative two years ago. “Seeing the rooftop producing was a wow moment – to finally see the vision that we have been looking at. It has gone up and it’s been implemented, and we are bringing the change in the inner city.” 

As an urban farmer Cele has hopes to utilize as much space as she can. She says living as a “landless South African” one can look up to the skies – the buildings in Joburg – to realize your agricultural dreams.  

“The future is seeing households taking the food issue very seriously. To say ‘Can we grow our own vegetables in our backyards?’ and make the difference,” she says.  


The Farmer’s Inside Track podcasts and videos are recorded in both Cape Town and Johannesburg and are available on different platforms, including a weekly e-mailer, a WhatsApp line and a bustling Facebook group. 

To get free access to all the exclusive content on Farmer’s Inside Track, head to farmersinsidetrack.co.za and sign up. To join the WhatsApp line, either click here or send a WhatsApp with the message “Sign me up for Farmer’s Inside Track” to +27 81 889 9032, providing your name and surname, e-mail address and province. 

  • Farmer’s Inside Track is proudly brought to you by Food For Mzansi, Africa’s Best Digital News Start-up. Advertisers who wish to explore opportunities on any of the Farmer’s Inside Track channels can e-mail ivor@foodformzansi.co.za and kobus@foodformzansi.co.za.
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Noluthando Ngcakani
Noluthando Ngcakani
With roots in the Northern Cape, this Kimberley Diamond has had a passion for telling human interest stories since she could speak her first words. A foodie by heart, she began her journalistic career as an intern at the SABC where she discovered her love for telling agricultural, community and nature related stories. Not a stranger to a challenge Ngcakani will go above and beyond to tell your truth.

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