Jozi Food Farmer

You’d be hard-pressed to find anyone more “Joburg” than Joburg Ash, the force behind Jozi Food Farmer (JFF), a unique service that creates food and ornamental gardens for inner city clients. Ash has been hard at it since 2010, and he’s adamant that JFF is the first urban plant nursery in the city of gold.

JFF Rooftop Farm, located on the corner of Juta and De Beer streets, was a rooftop plant shop that recently also became a coffee shop. “We started serving coffee because a lot of our customers would climb up to buy plants while consuming coffee from other shops,” said Ash. “Instead of policing our clients and reducing customer experience, we decided to have a coffee and tea station like most traditional plant nurseries.”

It’s quite a climb, up a metal ladder with a steel casing, but this doesn’t seem to deter would-be clients. Once on the rooftop, you are surrounded by aesthetic plants and succulents, all carefully chosen to enhance flats, rooftops and balconies. The bonus it offers is the calmness and shade provided by the plants, and a view over Braamfontein while you sip on your cup of Joe. The little haven is so secluded that some students use it for meditation groups.

Ash was born and bred in Soweto and, as his name implies, regards Johannesburg as his home. “From when I ran a bookshop at Wits, I’ve seen Braamfontein grow, and I’ve always wanted to make a contribution to this growth,” said Ash. “l am a solution-driven, patient, resourceful businessperson, and I’m very positive about the future.”

His vision for the future is to be the go-to place for consumers looking to buy plants for their home, office or business. “We are fine-tuning our offering to increase consumer satisfaction. We are also building and promoting our brand essence for the plant community: JFF Rooftop Farm in Braamfontein’s is ‘shop plants, enjoy coffee’ and for JFF Plant Shop located at 44 Stanley Avenue, it’s ‘plants connect people’.

The optimistic Ash — who is so into his beloved plants that he dyes his hair green — doesn’t have small ambitions. He wants to expand JFF into other parts of Johannesburg, then Pretoria, Cape Town, Durban “and then nationwide”.

“l must say thank you to all the stakeholders, developers like Adam Levy of Play Braamfontein, Southpoint and everyone who is investing into the city through commerce, who are always improving and building Braamfontein. The formula is to always improve your surroundings and keep up with everything that is happening globally, and do it to that international standard.”