"Questions and Answers"
Authored by Lily Daniel
I have kind of a crazy job right now. Crazy good not crazy stressful or crazy boring like some of my jobs have been. I’ll tell you why.
At home, I’m about to start my senior year at UC Berkeley where my major is called Society and Environment and I am minoring in Food Systems. My main scholastic focuses are on sustainable agriculture and ethical and efficient food systems with a specific interest in indigenous land management practices, plant-based and alternative proteins, and alternative food networks. Back at home, I’ve worked/interned at basically any organization that has to do with food from a plant-based lamb startup to a food waste recovery nonprofit. So naturally, when I was offered an internship for this summer at the South African Urban Food and Farming Trust in Cape Town, I was ecstatic.
But back to what I’ve actually been up to every day. I think it’s important to preface this with the fact that I have a deep fear of falling into social media marketing or any advertisement-related sector of environmental/food system work as I am not trained to be a chemist or biologist but don’t want to spend my day on a computer or phone either. Fortunately, my work at the SAUFF Trust has been molded to my desires, skills, and time and I have had the privilege of simply chatting with incredible people working in food systems every day. Essentially, our organization is planning and preparing for a conference that will start in less than a week, and besides other responsibilities like creating QR codes, updating the website, and yes… an occasional social media post, I have had the privilege of interviewing many of the conference speakers, presenters, and participants. This means that after sometimes a ridiculously long email chain with them, I get to ask them a series of questions (which at this point often includes my own personal questions) and they sit there and tell me about the amazing work they do. I have learned an immense amount from these interviews, and they’ve helped me hone in on what I care about and what fields I can work in. It’s been solidifying and inspiring to speak to founders of highly successful companies, speakers, political figures, professors, and entrepreneurs and it’s really helped me hone in on what kind of roles I can take on.
One woman I spoke to explained how the permits that informal fruit traders/sellers are issued are quite outdated and restrict their business and ability to provide for their families. The permits only section out small areas which is detrimental for a fruit seller that must lay out all of their produce. She told me that their success often comes from aesthetically organizing their products for customers and by legally preventing them from taking up more space, the South African government has limited their ability to succeed. She is the Executive Director of the South African Informal Traders Alliance and is truly an honor to speak to.
Another individual I spoke with explained how when she moved to a more affluent suburb of Cape Town, her home was immediately robbed and when she sought out a community in her new area, she didn’t find one. In order to fill this void and connect her neighbourhood, she founded an urban farm that later created the greatly successful Oranjezicht City Farm Market (which I go to every weekend and is an incredible place if you’re into food). Her story of creating community from food was inspiring and honestly, she has my dream job.
These are just two of the stories I’ve heard recently, but they’re important ones to share. My summer and my work at the SAUFF Trust has not only been incredibly educational and formative but has also solidified my sentiment that if my work after college has to do with food, I’ll probably be ok.