The Event Greening Forum hosted an educational networking event at Foakes Coffee Roastery and Bakery, in Victoria Yards, Johannesburg, on Thursday 24 October 2019. The main theme of the afternoon was social sustainability – an often overlooked aspect of sustainable event management.
“One of the central purposes of the EGF is to educate the industry on how to host sustainable events successfully,” says Lynn McLeod, the Secretariat of the Event Greening Forum. “At our events we aim to do this both in terms of the talks and speakers we organise, and the way we host our events. In this instance, we selected a venue that has a strong social sustainability agenda, and found speakers from the local community who were able to share their entrepreneurial journeys.”
Hector Mgiba and Sibusiso Zulu run their local tour business, 94 Colours, out of Victoria Yards (VY). Hector gave an introduction to VY, and the community it represents. He explained how the abandoned warehouses are being upgraded into a space that can serve the local Makers Valley community – the name given to the area covering Bertrams, Troyeville, New Doornfontein, Judith’s Paarl and Lorentzville, where a range of creative projects are being nurtured. As part of the Makers Valley Partnership initiatives, VY commons is a sponsored co-working space that provides affordable rentals for social and creative enterprises, while also generating some much-needed employment opportunities. VY raises the funds to support this way of operating by renting its various venues and spaces out for events, and its monthly market day.
Another inspiring green initiative at Victoria Yards are the vegetable and herb gardens that occupy any available piece of ground. The community can help themselves from the edible street gardens, while the restaurants and cafes purchase the produce for their food preparation.
The next speakers were business duo Thula Ndema and Thato Mbongeni Masondo, who are the creative entrepreneurs behind Sobae. Their business model was born out of the discovery that city street vendors were dumping large amounts of fruit and vegetables just before they were about to go off. They realised they could prevent this food waste and use it to create a tasty new product – sorbet.
They have innovated some unusual flavours, based on what fruit and vegetables are available and the herbs growing at Victoria Yards. These include pumpkin chai spice, strawberry and ginger, watermelon and black pepper corn, beets and green apples, and pineapple with basil. Their sorbet is handcrafted, and contains no dairy and very little sugar, making it a healthy, refreshing treat.
To reduce their own waste footprint, all fruit peels and shells are composted, and they recently implemented a return and reuse policy for their plastic cups and containers.
Thula and Thato shared some of their struggles in setting up their own business, but things have taken off and they are now in a position to hire staff to help them craft their popular product. You can also help them, by donating your excess ripe fruit. Simply get in touch via their website, www.sobae.co.za.
Lastly, Happy Sekanka shared the story of Foakes Coffee Roastery and Bakery, while her colleague and head baker Washington Makoto explained how he makes their breads in the traditional manner using only yeast, salt water and stoneground, unbleached flour. This process is far more time-consuming than modern methods which rely on additives to speed up the bread making process. However you can taste the difference, and the traditional breads’ flavours improve with time!
Foakes provided a feast of cheese boards and breads for the event, while the local IMPI craft Brewery provided artisanal beers. Another sustainable aspect of Victoria Yards is that food is never wasted, but redistributed to people within the local community. The leftover food from the EGF event was collected and made into sandwiches for local children.
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